Q: hi. my nephew just turned 20 years old, lives with me and has no job. He is still a full time high-school student at the local charter school. can I claim him?
A: Whether or not you can claim him as a dependent depends on whether or not he meets the requirements to be claimed as a dependent by you. For tax purposes, there are two types of dependents, a qualifying child and a qualifying relative.
Qualifying Child Requirements:
- Your son, daughter, adopted child1, stepchild, foster child2 or a descendent of any of them such as your grandchild
- Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, step brother, step sister or a descendant of any of them such as a niece or nephew
- At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) and younger than 19
- At the end of the filing year, your child was younger than you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) younger than 24 and a full-time student
- At the end of the filing year, your child was any age and permanently and totally disabled3
- Child must live with you (or your spouse if you file a joint return) in the United States4 for more than half of the year
- The child cannot file a joint return for the tax year unless the child and the child's spouse did not have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund.
What Are the Qualifying Relative Requirements?
An individual must meet all 4 of these requirements in order to be considered your Qualifying Relative.
- Not a Qualifying Child: The individual cannot be your Qualifying Child and cannot be someone else's Qualifying Child. They are a Qualifying Child if they meet all the requirements, whether or not they are claimed as a dependent.
- Relationship: The person must either have lived with you for the entire year as a member of the household (a person who is not actually related to you may meet the requirements in this way), or be related to you in one of the following ways: your child, stepchild, grandchild or other descendant of one of your children (or stepchildren or foster children), son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, parent, stepfather, stepmother, father-in-law, mother-in-law, grandparent, and, if related by blood, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew. Remember that a child whom you legally adopted is always considered to be your child. Also note that, for the purposes of this requirement, divorce or death does not change any relationship which was established by marriage (e.g. son-in-law, daughter-in-law, etc.)
- Gross Income: The person must have made less than $4,000 in gross income during 2015.
- Support: You must have provided more than half of the individual's total support during the year.
Based on the above information, if your nephew meets the requirements of either the qualifying child or qualifying relative, you can claim him. If he does not meet all of the requirements for either category, then you may not claim him as a dependent.
Let me know if I can be of further assistance to you regarding this matter.