Follow the steps below to find out if a person qualifies as your dependent, qualifies you to take the child tax credit, or both. If you have more than four dependents, attach a statement to your return with the information required in columns (1) through (4).
Special rules may apply for people who had to relocate because of the Midwestern storms, tornadoes, or flooding. For details, see Pub. 4492-B.
Step 1 Do You Have a Qualifying Child?
|A qualifying child is a child who is your...|
|Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew) |
|Under age 19 at the end of 2008|
|Under age 24 at the end of 2008 and a student (see page 19)|
|Any age and permanently and totally disabled (see page 19)|
|Did not provide over half of his or her own support for 2008 (see Pub. 501)|
|Lived with you for more than half of 2008. If the child did not live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you on page 19. |
| ||If the child meets the conditions to be a qualifying child of any other person (other than your spouse if filing jointly) for 2008, see Qualifying child of more than one person on page 19.|
|1. ||Do you have a child who meets the conditions to be your qualifying child?|
|No. || Go to Step 4 on page 18.|
Step 2 Is Your Qualifying Child Your
|1. ||Was the child a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico? If the child was adopted, see on page 19.|
|No. Stop. ||You cannot claim this child as a dependent. Go to Form 1040, line 7.|
|2. ||Was the child married?|
|Yes. || See Married person on page 19.|
|3. ||Could you, or your spouse if filing jointly, be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2008 tax return? See Steps 1, 2, and 4. |
|Yes. ||You cannot claim any dependents. Go to Step 3.|
|No. ||You can claim this child as a dependent. Complete Form 1040, line 6c, columns (1) through (3) for this child. Then, go to Step 3.|
Step 3 Does Your Qualifying Child
Qualify You for the Child Tax Credit?
|1. ||Was the child under age 17 at the end of 2008?|
|No. Stop. ||This child is not a qualifying child for the child tax credit. Go to Form 1040, line 7.|
|2. ||Was the child a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien? If the child was adopted, see on page 19.|
|Yes. ||This child is a qualifying child for the child tax credit. If this child is your dependent, check the box on Form 1040, line 6c, column (4), even if you cannot take the child tax credit. Otherwise, you must complete and attach Form 8901.|
|No. Stop. ||This child is not a qualifying child for the child tax credit. Go to Form 1040, line 7.|
Step 4 Is Your Qualifying Relative Your Dependent?
|A qualifying relative is a person who is your...|
|Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild)|
|Brother, sister, or a son or daughter of either of them (for example, your niece or nephew)|
|Father, mother, or an ancestor or sibling of either of them (for example, your grandmother, grandfather, aunt, or uncle)|
|Stepbrother, stepsister, stepfather, stepmother, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law |
|Any other person (other than your spouse) who lived with you all year as a member of your household if your relationship did not violate local law. If the person did not live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you on page 19 |
|who was not...|
|A qualifying child (see Step 1) of any taxpayer for 2008. For this purpose, a person is not a taxpayer if he or she is not required to file a U.S. income tax return and either does not file such a return or files only to get a refund of withheld income tax. |
|Had gross income of less than $3,500 in 2008. If the person was permanently and totally disabled, see Exception to gross income test on page 19 |
| For whom you provided...|
|Over half of his or her support in 2008. But see the special rule for Children of divorced or separated parents that begins on this page, Multiple support agreements on page 19, and Kidnapped child on page 19. |
|1. ||Does any person meet the conditions to be your qualifying relative?|
|No. Stop. ||Go to Form 1040, line 7.|
|2. ||Was your qualifying relative a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico? If your qualifying relative was adopted, see on page 19.|
|No. Stop. ||You cannot claim this person as a dependent. Go to Form 1040, line 7.|
|3. ||Was your qualifying relative married?|
|Yes. || See Married person on page 19.|
|4. ||Could you, or your spouse if filing jointly, be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2008 tax return? See Steps 1, 2, and 4.|
|Yes. Stop. ||You cannot claim any dependents. Go to Form 1040, line 7.|
|No. ||You can claim this person as a dependent. Complete Form 1040, line 6c, columns (1) through (3). Do not check the box on Form 1040, line 6c, column (4).|
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP13c8c8ee
If you have a dependent who was placed with you for legal adoption and you do not know his or her SSN, you must get an ATIN for the dependent from the IRS. See Form W-7A for details. If the dependent is not a U.S. citizen or resident alien, apply for an ITIN instead, using Form W-7. See page 14.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP1282afd0
A child will be treated as being the qualifying child or qualifying relative of his or her noncustodial parent (the parent with whom the child lived for the lesser part of 2008) if all of the following conditions apply.
- The parents are divorced, legally separated, separated under a written separation agreement, or lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of 2008.
- The child received over half of his or her support for 2008 from the parents (without regard to the rules on on page 19). Support of a child received from a parent's spouse is treated as provided by the parent.
- The child is in custody of one or both of the parents for more than half of 2008.
- Either of the following applies.
- The custodial parent signs Form 8332 or a substantially similar statement that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent for 2008, and the noncustodial parent attaches the form or statement to his or her return. If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 1984, the noncustodial parent can attach certain pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332. See on page 19.
- A pre-1985 decree of divorce or separate maintenance or written separation agreement between the parents provides that the noncustodial parent can claim the child as a depen dent, and the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 for support of the child during 2008.
If conditions (1) through (4) apply, only the noncustodial parent can claim the child for purposes of the dependency exemption (line 6c) and the child tax credits (lines 52 and 66). However, this special rule does not apply to head of household filing status, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, or the earned income credit. See Pub. 501 for details.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP1a70a8e0
The decree or agreement must state all three of the following.
- The noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent without regard to any condition, such as payment of support.
- The other parent will not claim the child as a dependent.
- The years for which the claim is released.
The noncustodial parent must attach all of the following pages from the decree or agreement.
- Cover page (include the other parent's SSN on that page).
- The pages that include all the information identified in (1) through (3) above.
- Signature page with the other parent's signature and date of agreement.
You must attach the required information even if you filed it with your return in an earlier year.
If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and your adopted child lived with you all year as a member of your household, that child meets the citizen test.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP778387e4
If your relative (including a person who lived with you all year as a member of your household) is permanently and totally disabled (defined on this page), certain income for services performed at a sheltered workshop may be excluded for this test. For details, see Pub. 501.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP12daf302
Temporary absences by you or the other person for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time the person lived with you. Also see Children of divorced or separated parents that begins on page 18 or Kidnapped child below.
A person is considered to have lived with you for all of 2008 if the person was born or died in 2008 and your home was this person's home for the entire time he or she was alive.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP700843e2
A foster child is any child placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP37665690
If your child is presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a family member, you may be able to take the child into account in determining your eligibility for head of household or qualifying widow(er) filing status, the deduction for dependents, child tax credit, and the earned income credit (EIC). For details, see Pub. 501 (Pub. 596 for the EIC).taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP406a577d
If the person is married, you cannot claim that person as your dependent if he or she files a joint return. But this rule does not apply if the return is filed only as a claim for refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse if they had filed separate returns. If the person meets this exception, go to Step 2, question 3, on page 17 (for a qualifying child) or Step 4, question 4, on page 18 (for a qualifying relative). If the person does not meet this exception, go to Step 3 on page 17 (for a qualifying child) or Form 1040, line 7 (for a qualifying relative).taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP68e8f7e8
If no one person contributed over half of the support of your relative (including a person who lived with you all year as a member of your household) but you and another person(s) provided more than half of your relative's support, special rules may apply that would treat you as having provided over half of the support. For details, see Pub. 501.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP0bc4623b
A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2008, the person cannot engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and a doctor has determined that this condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can be expected to lead to death.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP0e4ab877
If the child is the qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can claim the child as a qualifying child for all of the following tax benefits, unless the special rule for Children of divorced or separated parents
beginning on page 18 applies.
- Dependency exemption (line 6c).
- Child tax credits (lines 52 and 66).
- Head of household filing status (line 4).
- Credit for child and dependent care expenses (line 48).
- Exclusion for dependent care benefits (Form 2441, Part III).
- Earned income credit (lines 64a and 64b).
No other person can take any of the six tax benefits listed above unless he or she has a different qualifying child. If you and any other person claim the child as a qualifying child, the IRS will apply the following rules.
- If only one of the persons is the child's parent, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the parent.
- If two of the persons are the child's parents, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the parent with whom the child lived for the longer period of time in 2008. If the child lived with each parent for the same amount of time, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the parent who had the higher adjusted gross income (AGI) for 2008.
- If none of the persons are the child's parent, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the person who had the highest AGI for 2008.
Your daughter meets the conditions to be a qualifying child for both you and your mother. If you and your mother both claim tax benefits based on the child, the rules above apply. Under these rules, you are entitled to treat your daughter as a qualifying child for all of the six tax benefits listed above for which you otherwise qualify. Your mother would not be entitled to take any of the six tax benefits listed above unless she has a different qualifying child.
If you will be claiming the child as a qualifying child, go to Step 2 on page 17. Otherwise, stop; you cannot claim any benefits based on this child. Go to Form 1040, line 7.taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP0740acb0
You must enter each dependent's social security number (SSN). Be sure the name and SSN entered agree with the dependent's social security card. Otherwise, at the time we process your return, we may disallow the exemption claimed for the dependent and reduce or disallow any other tax benefits (such as the child tax credit) based on that dependent. If the name or SSN on the dependent's social security card is not correct, call the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213. For details on how your dependent can get an SSN, see page 14. If your dependent will not have a number by the date your return is due, see What if You Cannot File on Time? on page 7.
If your dependent child was born and died in 2008 and you do not have an SSN for the child, enter taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP1a3cd80e
Died in column (2) and attach a copy of the child's birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records. The document must show the child was born alive.
A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2008 was enrolled as a full-time student at a school, or took a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school or a state, county, or local government agency. A school includes a technical, trade, or mechanical school. It does not include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the Internet.