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IRS.gov Website
Publication 17
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170857

Exemptions for Dependents(p24)

rule
You are allowed one exemption for each person you can claim as a dependent. You can claim an exemption for a dependent even if your dependent files a return.
The term "dependent" means:
The terms " qualifying child" and " qualifying relative" are defined later.
You can claim an exemption for a qualifying child or qualifying relative only if these three tests are met.
  1. Dependent taxpayer test.
  2. Joint return test.
  3. Citizen or resident test.
These three tests are explained in detail later.
All the requirements for claiming an exemption for a dependent are summarized in Table 3-1.
EIC
Dependent not allowed a personal exemption. If you can claim an exemption for your dependent, the dependent cannot claim his or her own personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you do not claim the dependent's exemption on your return.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170861

Housekeepers, maids, or servants.(p24)

rule
If these people work for you, you cannot claim exemptions for them.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170862

Child tax credit.(p25)

rule
You may be entitled to a child tax credit for each qualifying child who was under age 17 at the end of the year if you claimed an exemption for that child. For more information, see chapter 34.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170864

(p25)

rule
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170865

Dependent Taxpayer Test(p25)

rule
If you could be claimed as a dependent by another person, you cannot claim anyone else as a dependent. Even if you have a qualifying child or qualifying relative, you cannot claim that person as a dependent.
If you are filing a joint return and your spouse could be claimed as a dependent by someone else, you and your spouse cannot claim any dependents on your joint return.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170866

Joint Return Test(p25)

rule
You generally cannot claim a married person as a dependent if he or she files a joint return.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170868

Exception.(p25)

rule
An exception to the joint return test applies if your child and his or her spouse file a joint return merely as a claim for refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse on separate returns.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170867

Example 1.(p25)

You supported your 18-year-old daughter, and she lived with you all year while her husband was in the Armed Forces. The couple files a joint return. You cannot take an exemption for your daughter.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000220518

Example 2.(p25)

Your 18-year-old son and his 17-year-old wife had $800 of interest income and no earned income. Neither is required to file a tax return. Taxes were taken out of their interest income due to backup withholding so they filed a joint return only to get a refund of the withheld taxes. The exception to the joint return test applies, so you are not disqualified from claiming their exemptions just because they file a joint return. You can claim their exemptions if you meet all the other requirements to do so.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000252625

Example 3.(p25)

The facts are the same as in Example 2 except your son had $2,000 of wages and no interest income or backup withholding. No taxes were taken out of his pay and he and his wife are not required to file a tax return, but they file a joint return to claim a making work pay credit of $124 and get a refund of that amount. They file the return to get the making work pay credit, so they are not filing it only as a claim for refund. The exception to the joint return test does not apply, so you cannot claim an exemption for either of them.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170870

Citizen or Resident Test(p26)

rule
You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. However, there is an exception for certain adopted children, as explained next.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170871

Exception for adopted child.(p26)

rule
If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national who has legally adopted a child who is not a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, or U.S. national, this test is met if the child lived with you as a member of your household all year. This exception also applies if the child was lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170872

Child's place of residence.(p26)

rule
Children usually are citizens or residents of the country of their parents.
If you were a U.S. citizen when your child was born, the child may be a U.S. citizen even if the other parent was a nonresident alien and the child was born in a foreign country. If so, this test is met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170873

Foreign students' place of residence.(p26)

rule
Foreign students brought to this country under a qualified international education exchange program and placed in American homes for a temporary period generally are not U.S. residents and do not meet this test. You cannot claim an exemption for them. However, if you provided a home for a foreign student, you may be able to take a charitable contribution deduction. See Expenses Paid for Student Living With You in chapter 24.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170875

U.S. national.(p26)

rule
A U.S. national is an individual who, although not a U.S. citizen, owes his or her allegiance to the United States. U.S. nationals include American Samoans and Northern Mariana Islanders who chose to become U.S. nationals instead of U.S. citizens.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170876

Qualifying Child(p26)

rule
There are five tests that must be met for a child to be your qualifying child. The five tests are:
  1. Relationship,
  2. Age,
  3. Residency,
  4. Support, and
  5. Joint return.
These tests are explained next.
EIC
If a child meets the five tests to be the qualifying child of more than one person, a special rule applies to determine which person can actually treat the child as a qualifying child. See Special Rule for Qualifying Child of More Than One Person, later.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170877

Relationship Test(p26)

rule
To meet this test, a child must be:
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170878

Adopted child.(p26)

rule
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. The term "adopted child" includes a child who was lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170879

Foster child.(p26)

rule
A foster child is an individual who is placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170880

Table 3-1. Overview of the Rules for Claiming an Exemption for a Dependent

Caution. This table is only an overview of the rules. For details, see the rest of this chapter.

  • You cannot claim any dependents if you, or your spouse if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
  • You cannot claim a married person who files a joint return as a dependent unless that joint return is only a claim for refund and there would be no tax liability for either spouse on separate returns.
  • You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.1
  • You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is your qualifying child or qualifying relative.
Tests To Be a Qualifying Child Tests To Be a Qualifying Relative
  1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
  2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a full-time student, and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
  3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.2
  4. The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
  5. The child is not filing a joint return for the year (unless that return is filed only as a claim for refund)

If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can actually treat the child as a qualifying child. See the Special Rule for Qualifying Child of More Than One Person to find out which person is the person entitled to claim the child as a qualifying child.
 
  1. The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer.
  2. The person either (a) must be related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you, or (b) must live with you all year as a member of your household2 (and your relationship must not violate local law).
  3. The person's gross income for the year must be less than $3,650.3
  4. You must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year.4
1There is an exception for certain adopted children.
2There are exceptions for temporary absences, children who were born or died during the year, children of divorced or separated parents or
 parents who live apart, and kidnapped children.
3There is an exception if the person is disabled and has income from a sheltered workshop.
4There are exceptions for multiple support agreements, children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, and kidnapped
  children.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170883

Age Test(p26)

rule
To meet this test, a child must be:
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170884

Example.(p26)

Your son turned 19 on December 10. Unless he was permanently and totally disabled or a full-time student, he does not meet the age test because, at the end of the year, he was not under age 19.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230130

Child must be younger than you or spouse.(p26)

rule
To be your qualifying child, a child who is not permanently and totally disabled must be younger than you. However, if you are married filing jointly, the child must be younger than you or your spouse but does not have to be younger than both of you.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230131

Example 1 – child not younger than you or spouse.(p26)

Your 23-year-old brother, who is a full-time student and unmarried, lives with you and your spouse. He is not disabled. Both you and your spouse are 21 years old, and you file a joint return. Your brother is not your qualifying child because he is not younger than you or your spouse.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230132

Example 2 – child younger than your spouse but not younger than you.(p26)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that your spouse is 25 years old. Because your brother is younger than your spouse and you and your spouse are filing a joint return, your brother is your qualifying child, even though he is not younger than you.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170885

Full-time student.(p26)

rule
A full-time student is a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full-time attendance.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170886
Student defined.(p26)
To qualify as a student, your child must be, during some part of each of any 5 calendar months of the year:
  1. A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study, and a regularly enrolled student body at the school, or
  2. A student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school described in (1), or by a state, county, or local government agency.
The 5 calendar months do not have to be consecutive.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170888
School defined.(p26)
A school can be an elementary school, junior or senior high school, college, university, or technical, trade, or mechanical school. However, an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the Internet does not count as a school.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170889
Vocational high school students.(p26)
Students who work on "co-op" jobs in private industry as a part of a school's regular course of classroom and practical training are considered full-time students.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170890

Permanently and totally disabled.(p26)

rule
Your child is permanently and totally disabled if both of the following apply.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170891

Residency Test(p26)

rule
To meet this test, your child must have lived with you for more than half of the year. There are exceptions for temporary absences, children who were born or died during the year, kidnapped children, and children of divorced or separated parents.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170892

Temporary absences.(p26)

rule
Your child is considered to have lived with you during periods of time when one of you, or both, are temporarily absent due to special circumstances such as:
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170893

Death or birth of child.(p26)

rule
A child who was born or died during the year is treated as having lived with you all year if your home was the child's home the entire time he or she was alive during the year. The same is true if the child lived with you all year except for any required hospital stay following birth.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170894
Child born alive.(p26)
You may be able to claim an exemption for a child who was born alive during the year, even if the child lived only for a moment. State or local law must treat the child as having been born alive. There must be proof of a live birth shown by an official document, such as a birth certificate. The child must be your qualifying child or qualifying relative, and all the other tests to claim an exemption for a dependent must be met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170895
Stillborn child.(p26)
You cannot claim an exemption for a stillborn child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170896

Kidnapped child.(p26)

rule
You can treat your child as meeting the residency test even if the child has been kidnapped, but both of the following statements must be true.
  1. The child is presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or the child's family.
  2. In the year the kidnapping occurred, the child lived with you for more than half of the part of the year before the date of the kidnapping.
This treatment applies for all years until the child is returned. However, the last year this treatment can apply is the earlier of:
  1. The year there is a determination that the child is dead, or
  2. The year the child would have reached age 18.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170897

Children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart.(p27)

rule
In most cases, because of the residency test, a child of divorced or separated parents is the qualifying child of the custodial parent. However, the child will be treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent if all four of the following statements are true.
  1. The parents:
    1. Are divorced or legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance,
    2. Are separated under a written separation agreement, or
    3. Lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the year, whether or not they are or were married.
  2. The child received over half of his or her support for the year from the parents.
  3. The child is in the custody of one or both parents for more than half of the year.
  4. Either of the following statements is true.
    1. The custodial parent signs a written declaration, discussed later, that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent for the year, and the noncustodial parent attaches this written declaration to his or her return. (If the decree or agreement went into effect after 1984 and before 2009, see Post-1984 and pre-2009 divorce decree or separation agreement, later. If the decree or agreement went into effect after 2008, see Post-2008 divorce decree or separation agreement, later.)
    2. A pre-1985 decree of divorce or separate maintenance or written separation agreement that applies to 2010 states that the noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent, the decree or agreement was not changed after 1984 to say the noncustodial parent cannot claim the child as a dependent, and the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 for the child's support during the year.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170899
Custodial parent and noncustodial parent.(p27)
The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the year. The other parent is the noncustodial parent.
If the parents divorced or separated during the year and the child lived with both parents before the separation, the custodial parent is the one with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the rest of the year.
A child is treated as living with a parent for a night if the child sleeps:
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230133
Equal number of nights.(p27)
If the child lived with each parent for an equal number of nights during the year, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230134
December 31.(p27)
The night of December 31 is treated as part of the year in which it begins. For example, December 31, 2010, is treated as part of 2010.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230135
Emancipated child.(p27)
If a child is emancipated under state law, the child is treated as not living with either parent. See Examples 5 and 6.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230136
Absences.(p27)
If a child was not with either parent on a particular night (because, for example, the child was staying at a friend's house), the child is treated as living with the parent with whom the child normally would have lived for that night, except for the absence. But if it cannot be determined with which parent the child normally would have lived or if the child would not have lived with either parent that night, the child is treated as not living with either parent that night.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230137
Parent works at night.(p27)
If, due to a parent's nighttime work schedule, a child lives for a greater number of days but not nights with the parent who works at night, that parent is treated as the custodial parent. On a school day, the child is treated as living at the primary residence registered with the school.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230138

Example 1 – child lived with one parent greater number of nights.(p27)

You and your child’s other parent are divorced. In 2010, your child lived with you 210 nights and with the other parent 155 nights. You are the custodial parent.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230139

Example 2 – child is away at camp.(p27)

In 2010, your daughter lives with each parent for alternate weeks. In the summer, she spends 6 weeks at summer camp. During the time she is at camp, she is treated as living with you for 3 weeks and with her other parent, your ex-spouse, for 3 weeks because this is how long she would have lived with each parent if she had not attended summer camp.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230140

Example 3 – child lived same number of days with each parent.(p27)

Your son lived with you 180 nights during the year and lived the same number of nights with his other parent, your ex-spouse. Your adjusted gross income is $40,000. Your ex-spouse's adjusted gross income is $25,000. You are treated as your son's custodial parent because you have the higher adjusted gross income.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230141

Example 4 – child is at parent’s home but with other parent.(p27)

Your son normally lives with you during the week and with his other parent, your ex-spouse, every other weekend. You become ill and are hospitalized. The other parent lives in your home with your son for 10 consecutive days while you are in the hospital. Your son is treated as living with you during this 10-day period because he was living in your home.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230142

Example 5 – child emancipated in May.(p27)

When your son turned age 18 in May 2010, he became emancipated under the law of the state where he lives. As a result, he is not considered in the custody of his parents for more than half of the year. The special rule for children of divorced or separated parents does not apply.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230143

Example 6 – child emancipated in August.(p27)

Your daughter lives with you from January 1, 2010, until May 31, 2010, and lives with her other parent, your ex-spouse, from June 1, 2010, through the end of the year. She turns 18 and is emancipated under state law on August 1, 2010. Because she is treated as not living with either parent beginning on August 1, she is treated as living with you the greater number of nights in 2010. You are the custodial parent.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170901
Written declaration.(p27)
The custodial parent may use either Form 8332 or a similar statement (containing the same information required by the form) to make the written declaration to release the exemption to the noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent must attach a copy of the form or statement to his or her tax return.
The exemption can be released for 1 year, for a number of specified years (for example, alternate years), or for all future years, as specified in the declaration.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170902
Post-1984 and pre-2009 divorce decree or separation agreement.(p27)
If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 1984 and before 2009, the noncustodial parent may be able to attach certain pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332. The decree or agreement must state all three of the following.
  1. The noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent without regard to any condition, such as payment of support.
  2. The custodial parent will not claim the child as a dependent for the year.
  3. The years for which the noncustodial parent, rather than the custodial parent, can claim the child as a dependent.
The noncustodial parent must attach all of the following pages of the decree or agreement to his or her tax return.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204298
Post-2008 divorce decree or separation agreement.(p28)
The noncustodial parent can no longer attach pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332 if the decree or agreement went into effect after 2008. The custodial parent must sign either Form 8332 or a similar statement whose only purpose is to release the custodial parent's claim to an exemption for a child, and the noncustodial parent must attach a copy to his or her return. The form or statement must release the custodial parent's claim to the child without any conditions. For example, the release must not depend on the noncustodial parent paying support.
EIC
The noncustodial parent must attach the required information even if it was filed with a return in an earlier year.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230145
Revocation of release of claim to an exemption.(p28)
The custodial parent can revoke a release of claim to exemption that he or she previously released to the noncustodial parent on Form 8332 or a similar statement. If the custodial parent provided, or made reasonable efforts to provide, the noncustodial parent with written notice of the revocation in 2009, the revocation can be effective no earlier than 2010. The custodial parent can use Part III of Form 8332 for this purpose and must attach a copy of the revocation to his or her return for each tax year he or she claims the child as a dependent as a result of the revocation.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170905
Remarried parent.(p28)
If you remarry, the support provided by your new spouse is treated as provided by you.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170906
Parents who never married.(p28)
This special rule for divorced or separated parents also applies to parents who never married and lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the year.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170907

Support Test (To Be a Qualifying Child)(p28)

rule
To meet this test, the child cannot have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
This test is different from the support test to be a qualifying relative, which is described later. However, to see what is or is not support, see Support Test (To Be a Qualifying Relative), later. If you are not sure whether a child provided more than half of his or her own support, you may find Worksheet 3-1 helpful.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000250292

Example.(p28)

You provided $4,000 toward your 16-year-old son's support for the year. He has a part-time job and provided $6,000 to his own support. He provided more than half of his own support for the year. He is not your qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000252774

Foster care payments and expenses.(p28)

rule
Payments you receive for the support of a foster child from a child placement agency are considered support provided by the agency. Similarly, payments you receive for the support of a foster child from a state or county are considered support provided by the state or county.
If you are not in the trade or business of providing foster care and your unreimbursed out-of-pocket expenses in caring for a foster child were mainly to benefit an organization qualified to receive deductible charitable contributions, the expenses are deductible as charitable contributions but are not considered support you provided. For more information about the deduction for charitable contributions, see chapter 24. If your unreimbursed expenses are not deductible as charitable contributions, they are considered support you provided.
If you are in the trade or business of providing foster care, your unreimbursed expenses are not considered support provided by you.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000252773

Example 1.(p28)

Lauren, a foster child, lived with Mr. and Mrs. Smith for the last 3 months of the year. The Smiths cared for Lauren because they wanted to adopt her (although she had not been placed with them for adoption). They did not care for her as a trade or business or to benefit the agency that placed her in their home. The Smiths' unreimbursed expenses are not deductible as charitable contributions but are considered support they provided for Lauren.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000250293

Example 2.(p28)

You provided $3,000 toward your 10-year-old foster child's support for the year. The state government provided $4,000, which is considered support provided by the state, not by the child. See Support provided by the state (welfare, food stamps, housing, etc.), later. Your foster child did not provide more than half of her own support for the year.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170910

Scholarships.(p28)

rule
A scholarship received by a child who is a full-time student is not taken into account in determining whether the child provided more than half of his or her own support.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204274

Joint Return Test (To Be a Qualifying Child)(p28)

rule
To meet this test, the child cannot file a joint return for the year.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204276

Exception.(p28)

rule
An exception to the joint return test applies if your child and his or her spouse file a joint return merely as a claim for refund.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204275

Example 1.(p28)

You supported your 18-year-old daughter, and she lived with you all year while her husband was in the Armed Forces. The couple files a joint return. Because your daughter filed a joint return, she is not your qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000220522

Example 2.(p28)

Your 18-year-old son and his 17-year-old wife had $800 of interest income and no earned income. Neither is required to file a tax return. Taxes were taken out of their interest income due to backup withholding so they filed a joint return only to get a refund of the withheld taxes. The exception to the joint return test applies, so your son may be your qualifying child if all the other tests are met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000252629

Example 3.(p28)

The facts are the same as in Example 2 except your son had $2,000 of wages and no interest income or backup withholding. No taxes were taken out of his pay and he and his wife are not required to file a tax return, but they file a joint return to claim a making work pay credit of $124 and get a refund of that amount. They file the return to get the making work pay credit, so they are not filing it only as a claim for refund. The exception to the joint return test does not apply, so you cannot claim an exemption for either of them.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204278

Special Rule for Qualifying Child of More Than One Person(p28)

rule
Deposit
If your qualifying child is not a qualifying child of anyone else, this special rule does not apply to you and you do not need to read about it. This is also true if your qualifying child is not a qualifying child of anyone else except your spouse with whom you file a joint return.
EIC
If a child is treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent under the rules for children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart described earlier, see Applying this special rule to divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, later.
Sometimes, a child meets the relationship, age, residency, support, and joint return tests to be a qualifying child of more than one person. Although the child meets the conditions to be a qualifying child of each of these persons, only one person can actually treat the child as a qualifying child to take all of the following tax benefits (provided the person is eligible for each benefit).
  1. The exemption for the child.
  2. The child tax credit.
  3. Head of household filing status.
  4. The credit for child and dependent care expenses.
  5. The exclusion from income for dependent care benefits.
  6. The earned income credit.
The other person cannot take any of these benefits based on this qualifying child. In other words, you and the other person cannot agree to divide these tax benefits between you. The other person cannot take any of these tax benefits unless he or she has a different qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204282

Tiebreaker rules.(p28)

rule
To determine which person can treat the child as a qualifying child to claim these six tax benefits, the following tie-breaker rules apply.
Subject to these tiebreaker rules, you and the other person may be able to choose which of you claims the child as a qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204283

Example 1—child lived with parent and grandparent.(p29)

You and your 3-year-old daughter Jane lived with your mother all year. You are 25 years old, unmarried, and your AGI is $9,000. Your mother's AGI is $15,000. Jane's father did not live with you or your daughter. The rule explained earlier for children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart does not apply. Jane is a qualifying child of both you and your mother because she meets the relationship, age, residency, support, and joint return tests for both you and your mother. However, only one of you can claim her. Jane is not a qualifying child of anyone else, including her father. You agree to let your mother claim Jane. This means your mother can claim Jane as a qualifying child for the dependency exemption, child tax credit, head of household filing status, credit for child and dependent care expenses, exclusion for dependent care benefits, and the earned income credit, if she qualifies for each of those tax benefits (and if you do not claim Jane as a qualifying child for any of those tax benefits).
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204284

Example 2—parent has higher AGI than grandparent.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except your AGI is $18,000. Because your mother's AGI is not higher than yours, she cannot claim Jane. Only you can claim Jane.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204285

Example 3—two persons claim same child.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that you and your mother both claim Jane as a qualifying child. In this case, you as the child's parent will be the only one allowed to claim Jane as a qualifying child. The IRS will disallow your mother's claim to the six tax benefits listed earlier unless she has another qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204286

Example 4—qualifying children split between two persons.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except you also have two other young children who are qualifying children of both you and your mother. Only one of you can claim each child. However, if your mother's AGI is higher than yours, you can allow your mother to claim one or more of the children. For example, if you claim one child, your mother can claim the other two.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204287

Example 5—taxpayer who is a qualifying child.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except you are only 18 years old and did not provide more than half of your own support for the year. This means you are your mother's qualifying child. If she can claim you as a dependent, then you cannot claim your daughter as a dependent because of the Dependent Taxpayer Test explained earlier.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230146

Example 6—child lived with both parents and grandparent.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that you and your daughter's father are married to each other, live with your daughter and your mother, and have AGI of $20,000 on a joint return. If you and your husband do not claim your daughter as a qualifying child, your mother can claim her instead. Even though the AGI on your joint return, $20,000, is more than your mother's AGI of $15,000, for this purpose each parent's AGI can be treated as $10,000, so your mother's $15,000 AGI is treated as higher than the highest AGI of any of the child's parents who can claim the child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204289

Example 7—separated parents.(p29)

You, your husband, and your 10-year-old son lived together until August 1, 2010, when your husband moved out of the household. In August and September, your son lived with you. For the rest of the year, your son lived with your husband, the boy's father. Your son is a qualifying child of both you and your husband because your son lived with each of you for more than half the year and because he met the relationship, age, support, and joint return tests for both of you. At the end of the year, you and your husband still were not divorced, legally separated, or separated under a written separation agreement, so the rule for children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart does not apply.
You and your husband will file separate returns. Your husband agrees to let you treat your son as a qualifying child. This means, if your husband does not claim your son as a qualifying child, you can claim your son as a qualifying child for the dependency exemption, child tax credit, and exclusion for dependent care benefits, if you qualify for each of those tax benefits. However, you cannot claim head of household filing status because you and your husband did not live apart for the last 6 months of the year. As a result, your filing status is married filing separately, so you cannot claim the earned income credit or the credit for child and dependent care expenses.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204290

Example 8—separated parents claim same child.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 7 except that you and your husband both claim your son as a qualifying child. In this case, only your husband will be allowed to treat your son as a qualifying child. This is because, during 2010, the boy lived with him longer than with you. If you claimed an exemption, the child tax credit, or the exclusion for dependent care benefits for your son, the IRS will disallow your claim to all these tax benefits, unless you have another qualifying child. In addition, because you and your husband did not live apart for the last 6 months of the year, your husband cannot claim head of household filing status. As a result, his filing status is married filing separately, so he cannot claim the earned income credit or the credit for child and dependent care expenses.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204291

Example 9—unmarried parents.(p29)

You, your 5-year-old son, and your son's father lived together all year. You and your son's father are not married. Your son is a qualifying child of both you and his father because he meets the relationship, age, residency, support, and joint return tests for both you and his father. Your AGI is $12,000 and your son's father's AGI is $14,000. Your son's father agrees to let you claim the child as a qualifying child. This means you can claim him as a qualifying child for the dependency exemption, child tax credit, head of household filing status, credit for child and dependent care expenses, exclusion for dependent care benefits, and the earned income credit, if you qualify for each of those tax benefits (and if your son's father does not, in fact, claim your son as a qualifying child for any of those tax benefits).
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204292

Example 10—unmarried parents claim same child.(p29)

The facts are the same as in Example 9 except that you and your son's father both claim your son as a qualifying child. In this case, only your son's father will be allowed to treat your son as a qualifying child. This is because his AGI, $14,000, is more than your AGI, $12,000. If you claimed an exemption, the child tax credit, head of household filing status, credit for child and dependent care expenses, exclusion for dependent care benefits, or the earned income credit for your son, the IRS will disallow your claim to all these tax benefits, unless you have another qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204293

Example 11—child did not live with a parent.(p29)

You and your 7-year-old niece, your sister's child, lived with your mother all year. You are 25 years old, and your AGI is $9,300. Your mother's AGI is $15,000. Your niece's parents file jointly, have an AGI of less than $9,000, and do not live with you or their child. Your niece is a qualifying child of both you and your mother because she meets the relationship, age, residency, support, and joint return tests for both you and your mother. However, only your mother can treat her as a qualifying child. This is because your mother's AGI, $15,000, is more than your AGI, $9,300.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204295

Applying this special rule to divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart.(p29)

rule
If a child is treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent under the rules described earlier for children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, only the noncustodial parent can claim an exemption and the child tax credit for the child. However, the custodial parent, if eligible, or other eligible person can claim the child as a qualifying child for head of household filing status, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, and the earned income credit. If the child is the qualifying child of more than one person for these benefits, then the tiebreaker rules will determine which person can treat the child as a qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204296

Example 1.(p29)

You and your 5-year-old son lived all year with your mother, who paid the entire cost of keeping up the home. Your AGI is $10,000. Your mother's AGI is $25,000. Your son's father did not live with you or your son. Under the rules explained earlier for children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, your son is treated as the qualifying child of his father, who can claim an exemption and the child tax credit for him. Because of this, you cannot claim an exemption or the child tax credit for your son. However, your son's father cannot claim your son as a qualifying child for head of household filing status, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, or the earned income credit. You and your mother did not have any child care expenses or dependent care benefits, but the boy is a qualifying child of both you and your mother for head of household filing status and the earned income credit because he meets the relationship, age, residency, support, and joint return tests for both you and your mother. (Note: The support test does not apply for the earned income credit.) However, you agree to let your mother claim your son. This means she can claim him for head of household filing status and the earned income credit if she qualifies for each and if you do not claim him as a qualifying child for the earned income credit. (You cannot claim head of household filing status because your mother paid the entire cost of keeping up the home.)
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000230160

Example 2.(p30)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that your AGI is $25,000 and your mother's AGI is $21,000. Your mother cannot claim your son as a qualifying child for any purpose because her AGI is not higher than yours.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000204297

Example 3.(p30)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except that you and your mother both claim your son as a qualifying child for the earned income credit. Your mother also claims him as a qualifying child for head of household filing status. You as the child's parent will be the only one allowed to claim your son as a qualifying child for the earned income credit. The IRS will disallow your mother's claim to the earned income credit and head of household filing status unless she has another qualifying child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170933

Qualifying Relative(p30)

rule
There are four tests that must be met for a person to be your qualifying relative. The four tests are:
  1. Not a qualifying child test,
  2. Member of household or relationship test,
  3. Gross income test, and
  4. Support test.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170934

Age.(p30)

rule
Unlike a qualifying child, a qualifying relative can be any age. There is no age test for a qualifying relative.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170935

Kidnapped child.(p30)

rule
You can treat a child as your qualifying relative even if the child has been kidnapped, but both of the following statements must be true.
  1. The child is presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or the child's family.
  2. In the year the kidnapping occurred, the child met the tests to be your qualifying relative for the part of the year before the date of the kidnapping.
This treatment applies for all years until the child is returned. However, the last year this treatment can apply is the earlier of:
  1. The year there is a determination that the child is dead, or
  2. The year the child would have reached age 18.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170936

Not a Qualifying Child Test(p30)

rule
A child is not your qualifying relative if the child is your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170937

Example 1.(p30)

Your 22-year-old daughter, who is a full-time student, lives with you and meets all the tests to be your qualifying child. She is not your qualifying relative.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170938

Example 2.(p30)

Your 2-year-old son lives with your parents and meets all the tests to be their qualifying child. He is not your qualifying relative.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170939

Example 3.(p30)

Your son lives with you but is not your qualifying child because he is 30 years old and does not meet the age test. He may be your qualifying relative if the gross income test and the support test are met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170940

Example 4.(p30)

Your 13-year-old grandson lived with his mother for 3 months, with his uncle for 4 months, and with you for 5 months during the year. He is not your qualifying child because he does not meet the residency test. He may be your qualifying relative if the gross income test and the support test are met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170941

Child of person not required to file a return.(p30)

rule
A child is not the qualifying child of any other taxpayer and so may qualify as your qualifying relative if the child's parent (or other person for whom the child is defined as a qualifying child) is not required to file an income tax return and either:
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170942

Example 1—return not required.(p30)

You support an unrelated friend and her 3-year-old child, who lived with you all year in your home. Your friend has no gross income, is not required to file a 2010 tax return, and does not file a 2010 tax return. Both your friend and her child are your qualifying relatives if the member of household or relationship test, gross income test, and support test are met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170943

Example 2—return filed to claim refund.(p30)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except your friend had wages of $1,500 during the year and had income tax withheld from her wages. She files a return only to get a refund of the income tax withheld and does not claim the earned income credit or any other tax credits or deductions. Both your friend and her child are your qualifying relatives if the member of household or relationship test, gross income test, and support test are met.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170944

Example 3—earned income credit claimed.(p30)

The facts are the same as in Example 2 except your friend had wages of $8,000 during the year and claimed the earned income credit on her return. Your friend's child is the qualifying child of another taxpayer (your friend), so you cannot claim your friend's child as your qualifying relative.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170945

Child in Canada or Mexico.(p30)

rule
A child who lives in Canada or Mexico may be your qualifying relative, and you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. If the child does not live with you, the child does not meet the residency test to be your qualifying child. If the persons the child does live with are not U.S. citizens and have no U.S. gross income, those persons are not "taxpayers," so the child is not the qualifying child of any other taxpayer. If the child is not your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer, the child is your qualifying relative if the gross income test and the support test are met.
You cannot claim as a dependent a child who lives in a foreign country other than Canada or Mexico, unless the child is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, or U.S. national. There is an exception for certain adopted children who lived with you all year. See Citizen or Resident Test, earlier.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170947

Example.(p30)

You provide all the support of your children, ages 6, 8, and 12, who live in Mexico with your mother and have no income. You are single and live in the United States. Your mother is not a U.S. citizen and has no U.S. income, so she is not a "taxpayer." Your children are not your qualifying children because they do not meet the residency test. Also, they are not the qualifying children of any other taxpayer, so they are your qualifying relatives and you can claim them as dependents if all the tests are met. You may also be able to claim your mother as a dependent if all the tests are met, including the gross income test and the support test.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170948

Member of Household or Relationship Test(p30)

rule
To meet this test, a person must either:
  1. Live with you all year as a member of your household, or
  2. Be related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you.
If at any time during the year the person was your spouse, that person cannot be your qualifying relative. However, see Personal Exemptions, earlier.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170951

Relatives who do not have to live with you.(p30)

rule
A person related to you in any of the following ways does not have to live with you all year as a member of your household to meet this test. Any of these relationships that were established by marriage are not ended by death or divorce.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170952

Example.(p31)

You and your wife began supporting your wife's father, a widower, in 2004. Your wife died in 2009. In spite of your wife's death, your father-in-law continues to meet this test, even if he does not live with you. You can claim him as a dependent if all other tests are met, including the gross income test and support test.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170953
Foster child.(p31)
A foster child is an individual who is placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170954

Joint return.(p31)

rule
If you file a joint return, the person can be related to either you or your spouse. Also, the person does not need to be related to the spouse who provides support.
For example, your spouse's uncle who receives more than half of his support from you may be your qualifying relative, even though he does not live with you. However, if you and your spouse file separate returns, your spouse's uncle can be your qualifying relative only if he lives with you all year as a member of your household.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170955

Temporary absences.(p31)

rule
A person is considered to live with you as a member of your household during periods of time when one of you, or both, are temporarily absent due to special circumstances such as:
If the person is placed in a nursing home for an indefinite period of time to receive constant medical care, the absence may be considered temporary.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170956

Death or birth.(p31)

rule
A person who died during the year, but lived with you as a member of your household until death, will meet this test. The same is true for a child who was born during the year and lived with you as a member of your household for the rest of the year. The test is also met if a child lived with you as a member of your household except for any required hospital stay following birth.
If your dependent died during the year and you otherwise qualified to claim an exemption for the dependent, you can still claim the exemption.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170957

Example.(p31)

Your dependent mother died on January 15. She met the tests to be your qualifying relative. The other tests to claim an exemption for a dependent were also met. You can claim an exemption for her on your return.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170958

Local law violated.(p31)

rule
A person does not meet this test if at any time during the year the relationship between you and that person violates local law.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170959

Example.(p31)

Your girlfriend lived with you as a member of your household all year. However, your relationship with her violated the laws of the state where you live, because she was married to someone else. Therefore, she does not meet this test and you cannot claim her as a dependent.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170960

Adopted child.(p31)

rule
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. The term "adopted child" includes a child who was lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170961

Cousin.(p31)

rule
Your cousin meets this test only if he or she lives with you all year as a member of your household. A cousin is a descendant of a brother or sister of your father or mother.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170962

Gross Income Test(p31)

rule
To meet this test, a person's gross income for the year must be less than $3,650.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170963
Gross income defined.(p31)
Gross income is all income in the form of money, property, and services that is not exempt from tax.
In a manufacturing, merchandising, or mining business, gross income is the total net sales minus the cost of goods sold, plus any miscellaneous income from the business.
Gross receipts from rental property are gross income. Do not deduct taxes, repairs, etc., to determine the gross income from rental property.
Gross income includes a partner's share of the gross (not a share of the net) partnership income.
Gross income also includes all taxable unemployment compensation and certain scholarship and fellowship grants. Scholarships received by degree candidates that are used for tuition, fees, supplies, books, and equipment required for particular courses may not be included in gross income. For more information about scholarships, see chapter 12.
Tax-exempt income, such as certain social security benefits, is not included in gross income.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170965
Disabled dependent working at sheltered workshop.(p31)
For purposes of this test (the gross income test), the gross income of an individual who is permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year does not include income for services the individual performs at a sheltered workshop. The availability of medical care at the workshop must be the main reason for the individual's presence there. Also, the income must come solely from activities at the workshop that are incident to this medical care.
A "sheltered workshop" is a school that:
"Permanently and totally disabled" has the same meaning here as under Qualifying Child, earlier.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170967

Support Test (To Be a Qualifying Relative)(p31)

rule
To meet this test, you generally must provide more than half of a person's total support during the calendar year.
However, if two or more persons provide support, but no one person provides more than half of a person's total support, see Multiple Support Agreement, later.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170969

How to determine if support test is met.(p31)

rule
You figure whether you have provided more than half of a person's total support by comparing the amount you contributed to that person's support with the entire amount of support that person received from all sources. This includes support the person provided from his or her own funds.
You may find Worksheet 3-1 helpful in figuring whether you provided more than half of a person's support.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170971

Person's own funds not used for support.(p31)

rule
A person's own funds are not support unless they are actually spent for support.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170972

Example.(p31)

Your mother received $2,400 in social security benefits and $300 in interest. She paid $2,000 for lodging and $400 for recreation. She put $300 in a savings account.
Even though your mother received a total of $2,700 ($2,400 + $300), she spent only $2,400 ($2,000 + $400) for her own support. If you spent more than $2,400 for her support and no other support was received, you have provided more than half of her support.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170973

Child's wages used for own support.(p31)

rule
You cannot include in your contribution to your child's support any support that is paid for by the child with the child's own wages, even if you paid the wages.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170974

Year support is provided.(p31)

rule
The year you provide the support is the year you pay for it, even if you do so with borrowed money that you repay in a later year.
If you use a fiscal year to report your income, you must provide more than half of the dependent's support for the calendar year in which your fiscal year begins.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170975

Armed Forces dependency allotments.(p31)

rule
The part of the allotment contributed by the government and the part taken out of your military pay are both considered provided by you in figuring whether you provide more than half of the support. If your allotment is used to support persons other than those you name, you can take the exemptions for them if they otherwise qualify.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170976

Example.(p31)

You are in the Armed Forces. You authorize an allotment for your widowed mother that she uses to support herself and her sister. If the allotment provides more than half of each person's support, you can take an exemption for each of them, if they otherwise qualify, even though you authorize the allotment only for your mother.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170977
Tax-exempt military quarters allowances.(p32)
These allowances are treated the same way as dependency allotments in figuring support. The allotment of pay and the tax-exempt basic allowance for quarters are both considered as provided by you for support.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170978

Tax-exempt income.(p32)

rule
In figuring a person's total support, include tax-exempt income, savings, and borrowed amounts used to support that person. Tax-exempt income includes certain social security benefits, welfare benefits, nontaxable life insurance proceeds, Armed Forces family allotments, nontaxable pensions, and tax-exempt interest.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170979

Example 1.(p32)

You provide $4,000 toward your mother's support during the year. She has earned income of $600, nontaxable social security benefits of $4,800, and tax-exempt interest of $200. She uses all these for her support. You cannot claim an exemption for your mother because the $4,000 you provide is not more than half of her total support of $9,600.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170980

Example 2.(p32)

Your brother's daughter takes out a student loan of $2,500 and uses it to pay her college tuition. She is personally responsible for the loan. You provide $2,000 toward her total support. You cannot claim an exemption for her because you provide less than half of her support.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170981
Social security benefits.(p32)
If a husband and wife each receive benefits that are paid by one check made out to both of them, half of the total paid is considered to be for the support of each spouse, unless they can show otherwise.
If a child receives social security benefits and uses them toward his or her own support, the benefits are considered as provided by the child.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170982
Support provided by the state (welfare, food stamps, housing, etc.).(p32)
Benefits provided by the state to a needy person generally are considered support provided by the state. However, payments based on the needs of the recipient will not be considered as used entirely for that person's support if it is shown that part of the payments were not used for that purpose.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170986

Home for the aged.(p32)

rule
If you make a lump-sum advance payment to a home for the aged to take care of your relative for life and the payment is based on that person's life expectancy, the amount of support you provide each year is the lump-sum payment divided by the relative's life expectancy. The amount of support you provide also includes any other amounts you provided during the year.
taxmap/pub17/p17-017.htm#en_us_publink1000170987

Total Support(p32)

rule
To figure if you provided more than half of a person's support, you must first determine the total support provided for that person. Total support includes amounts spent to provide food, lodging, clothing, education, medical and dental care, recreation, transportation, and similar necessities.
Generally, the amount of an item of support is the amount of the expense incurred in providing that item. For lodging, the amount of support is the fair rental value of the lodging.
Expenses that are not directly related to any one member of a household, such as the cost of food for the household, must be divided among the members of the household.
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Example 1.(p32)

Grace Brown, mother of Mary Miller, lives with Frank and Mary Miller and their two children. Grace gets social security benefits of $2,400, which she spends for clothing, transportation, and recreation. Grace has no other income. Frank and Mary's total food expense for the household is $5,200. They pay Grace's medical and drug expenses of $1,200. The fair rental value of the lodging provided for Grace is $1,800 a year, based on the cost of similar rooming facilities. Figure Grace's total support as follows:
Fair rental value of lodging$ 1,800
Clothing, transportation, and recreation2,400
Medical expenses1,200
Share of food (1/5 of $5,200)1,040
Total support$6,440
 
The support Frank and Mary provide ($1,800 lodging + $1,200 medical expenses + $1,040 food = $4,040) is more than half of Grace's $6,440 total support.
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Example 2.(p32)

Your parents live with you, your spouse, and your two children in a house you own. The fair rental value of your parents' share of the lodging is $2,000 a year ($1,000 each), which includes furnishings and utilities. Your father receives a nontaxable pension of $4,200, which he spends equally between your mother and himself for items of support such as clothing, transportation, and recreation. Your total food expense for the household is $6,000. Your heat and utility bills amount to $1,200. Your mother has hospital and medical expenses of $600, which you pay during the year. Figure your parents' total support as follows:
Support provided Father Mother
Fair rental value of lodging$1,000$1,000
Pension spent for their support 2,100 2,100
Share of food (1/6 of $6,000) 1,000 1,000
Medical expenses for mother 600
Parents' total support$4,100$4,700
You must apply the support test separately to each parent. You provide $2,000 ($1,000 lodging, $1,000 food) of your father's total support of $4,100 – less than half. You provide $2,600 to your mother ($1,000 lodging, $1,000 food, $600 medical) – more than half of her total support of $4,700. You meet the support test for your mother, but not your father. Heat and utility costs are included in the fair rental value of the lodging, so these are not considered separately.
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Lodging.(p32)

rule
If you provide a person with lodging, you are considered to provide support equal to the fair rental value of the room, apartment, house, or other shelter in which the person lives. Fair rental value includes a reasonable allowance for the use of furniture and appliances, and for heat and other utilities that are provided.
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Fair rental value defined.(p32)
This is the amount you could reasonably expect to receive from a stranger for the same kind of lodging. It is used instead of actual expenses such as taxes, interest, depreciation, paint, insurance, utilities, cost of furniture and appliances, etc. In some cases, fair rental value may be equal to the rent paid.
If you provide the total lodging, the amount of support you provide is the fair rental value of the room the person uses, or a share of the fair rental value of the entire dwelling if the person has use of your entire home. If you do not provide the total lodging, the total fair rental value must be divided depending on how much of the total lodging you provide. If you provide only a part and the person supplies the rest, the fair rental value must be divided between both of you according to the amount each provides.
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Example.(p32)

Your parents live rent free in a house you own. It has a fair rental value of $5,400 a year furnished, which includes a fair rental value of $3,600 for the house and $1,800 for the furniture. This does not include heat and utilities. The house is completely furnished with furniture belonging to your parents. You pay $600 for their utility bills. Utilities are not usually included in rent for houses in the area where your parents live. Therefore, you consider the total fair rental value of the lodging to be $6,000 ($3,600 fair rental value of the unfurnished house, $1,800 allowance for the furnishings provided by your parents, and $600 cost of utilities) of which you are considered to provide $4,200 ($3,600 + $600).
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Person living in his or her own home.(p32)
The total fair rental value of a person's home that he or she owns is considered support contributed by that person.
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Living with someone rent free.(p32)
If you live with a person rent free in his or her home, you must reduce the amount you provide for support of that person by the fair rental value of lodging he or she provides you.
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Property.(p32)

rule
Property provided as support is measured by its fair market value. Fair market value is the price that property would sell for on the open market. It is the price that would be agreed upon between a willing buyer and a willing seller, with neither being required to act, and both having reasonable knowledge of the relevant facts.
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Capital expenses.(p32)
Capital items, such as furniture, appliances, and cars, that are bought for a person during the year can be included in total support under certain circumstances.
The following examples show when a capital item is or is not support.
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Example 1.(p32)

You buy a $200 power lawn mower for your 13-year-old child. The child is given the duty of keeping the lawn trimmed. Because the lawn mower benefits all members of the household, you cannot include the cost of the lawn mower in the support of your child.
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Example 2.(p34)

You buy a $150 television set as a birthday present for your 12-year-old child. The television set is placed in your child's bedroom. You can include the cost of the television set in the support of your child.
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Example 3.(p34)

You pay $5,000 for a car and register it in your name. You and your 17-year-old daughter use the car equally. Because you own the car and do not give it to your daughter but merely let her use it, you cannot include the cost of the car in your daughter's total support. However, you can include in your daughter's support your out-of-pocket expenses of operating the car for her benefit.
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Example 4.(p34)

Your 17-year-old son, using personal funds, buys a car for $4,500. You provide all the rest of your son's support – $4,000. Since the car is bought and owned by your son, the car's fair market value ($4,500) must be included in his support. Your son has provided more than half of his own total support of $8,500 ($4,500 + $4,000), so he is not your qualifying child. You did not provide more than half of his total support, so he is not your qualifying relative. You cannot claim an exemption for your son.
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Medical insurance premiums.(p34)

rule
Medical insurance premiums you pay, including premiums for supplementary Medicare coverage, are included in the support you provide.
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Medical insurance benefits.(p34)
Medical insurance benefits, including basic and supplementary Medicare benefits, are not part of support.
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Tuition payments and allowances under the GI Bill.(p34)

rule
Amounts veterans receive under the GI Bill for tuition payments and allowances while they attend school are included in total support.
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Example.(p34)

During the year, your son receives $2,200 from the government under the GI Bill. He uses this amount for his education. You provide the rest of his support – $2,000. Because GI benefits are included in total support, your son's total support is $4,200 ($2,200 + $2,000). You have not provided more than half of his support.
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Child care expenses.(p34)

rule
If you pay someone to provide child or dependent care, you can include these payments in the amount you provided for the support of your child or disabled dependent, even if you claim a credit for the payments. For information on the credit, see chapter 32.
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Other support items.(p34)

rule
Other items may be considered as support depending on the facts in each case.
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Do Not Include 
in Total Support(p34)

rule
The following items are not included in total support.
  1. Federal, state, and local income taxes paid by persons from their own income.
  2. Social security and Medicare taxes paid by persons from their own income.
  3. Life insurance premiums.
  4. Funeral expenses.
  5. Scholarships received by your child if your child is a full-time student.
  6. Survivors' and Dependents' Educational Assistance payments used for the support of the child who receives them.
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Multiple Support Agreement(p34)

rule
Sometimes no one provides more than half of the support of a person. Instead, two or more persons, each of whom would be able to take the exemption but for the support test, together provide more than half of the person's support.
When this happens, you can agree that any one of you who individually provides more than 10% of the person's support, but only one, can claim an exemption for that person as a qualifying relative. Each of the others must sign a statement agreeing not to claim the exemption for that year. The person who claims the exemption must keep these signed statements for his or her records. A multiple support declaration identifying each of the others who agreed not to claim the exemption must be attached to the return of the person claiming the exemption. Form 2120, Multiple Support Declaration, can be used for this purpose.
You can claim an exemption under a multiple support agreement for someone related to you or for someone who lived with you all year as a member of your household.
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Pencil

Worksheet 3-1. Worksheet for Determining Support

Funds Belonging to the Person You Supported   
1.Enter the total funds belonging to the person you supported, including income received (taxable and nontaxable) and amounts borrowed during the year, plus the amount in savings and other accounts at the beginning of the year. Do not include funds provided by the state; include those amounts on line 23 instead 1. 
2.Enter the amount on line 1 that was used for the person's support2. 
3.Enter the amount on line 1 that was used for other purposes3. 
4.Enter the total amount in the person's savings and other accounts at the end of the year4. 
5.Add lines 2 through 4. (This amount should equal line 1.)5. 
Expenses for Entire Household (where the person you supported lived)    
6.Lodging (complete line 6a or 6b):   
  6a. Enter the total rent paid 6a. 
  6b. Enter the fair rental value of the home. If the person you supported owned the home,
also include this amount in line 21.
6b. 
7.Enter the total food expenses7. 
8.Enter the total amount of utilities (heat, light, water, etc. not included in line 6a or 6b)8. 
9.Enter the total amount of repairs (not included in line 6a or 6b)9. 
10.Enter the total of other expenses. Do not include expenses of maintaining the home, such as mortgage interest, real estate taxes, and insurance. 10. 
11.Add lines 6a through 10. These are the total household expenses11. 
12.Enter total number of persons who lived in the household12. 
Expenses for the Person You Supported   
13.Divide line 11 by line 12. This is the person's share of the household expenses13. 
14.Enter the person's total clothing expenses14. 
15.Enter the person's total education expenses15. 
16.Enter the person's total medical and dental expenses not paid for or reimbursed by insurance16. 
17.Enter the person's total travel and recreation expenses17. 
18.Enter the total of the person's other expenses18. 
19.Add lines 13 through 18. This is the total cost of the person's support for the year19. 
Did the Person Provide More Than Half of His or Her Own Support?   
20.Multiply line 19 by 50% (.50)20. 
21.Enter the amount from line 2, plus the amount from line 6b if the person you supported owned
the home. This is the amount the person provided for his or her own support
21. 
22.Is line 21 more than line 20?

box No. You meet the support test for this person to be your qualifying child. If this person also meets the other tests to be a qualifying child, stop here; do not complete lines 23–26. Otherwise, go to line 23 and fill out the rest of the worksheet to determine if this person is your qualifying relative.

box Yes. You do not meet the support test for this person to be either your qualifying child or your qualifying relative. Stop here.

 
 Did You Provide More Than Half?   
23.Enter the amount others provided for the person's support. Include amounts provided by state, local, and other welfare societies or agencies. Do not include any amounts included on line 1. 23. 
24.Add lines 21 and 2324. 
25.Subtract line 24 from line 19. This is the amount you provided for the person's support25. 
26.Is line 25 more than line 20?

box Yes. You meet the support test for this person to be your qualifying relative.

box No. You do not meet the support test for this person to be your qualifying relative. You cannot claim an exemption for this person unless you can do so under a multiple support agreement, the support test for children of divorced or separated parents, or the special rule for kidnapped children. See Multiple Support Agreement, Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents or Parents Who Live Apart, or Kidnapped Child under Qualifying Relative.
 
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Example 1.(p34)

You, your sister, and your two brothers provide the entire support of your mother for the year. You provide 45%, your sister 35%, and your two brothers each provide 10%. Either you or your sister can claim an exemption for your mother. The other must sign a statement agreeing not to take an exemption for your mother. The one who claims the exemption must attach Form 2120, or a similar declaration, to his or her return and must keep the statement signed by the other for his or her records. Because neither brother provides more than 10% of the support, neither can take the exemption and neither has to sign a statement.
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Example 2.(p34)

You and your brother each provide 20% of your mother's support for the year. The remaining 60% of her support is provided equally by two persons who are not related to her. She does not live with them. Because more than half of her support is provided by persons who cannot claim an exemption for her, no one can take the exemption.
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Example 3.(p34)

Your father lives with you and receives 25% of his support from social security, 40% from you, 24% from his brother (your uncle), and 11% from a friend. Either you or your uncle can take the exemption for your father if the other signs a statement agreeing not to. The one who takes the exemption must attach Form 2120, or a similar declaration, to his return and must keep for his records the signed statement from the one agreeing not to take the exemption.
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Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents or Parents Who Live Apart(p34)

rule
In most cases, a child of divorced or separated parents will be a qualifying child of one of the parents. See Children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart under Qualifying Child, earlier. However, if the child does not meet the requirements to be a qualifying child of either parent, the child may be a qualifying relative of one of the parents. In that case, the following rules must be used in applying the support test.
A child will be treated as being the qualifying relative of his or her noncustodial parent if all four of the following statements are true.
  1. The parents:
    1. Are divorced or legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance,
    2. Are separated under a written separation agreement, or
    3. Lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the year, whether or not they are or were married.
  2. The child received over half of his or her support for the year from the parents (and the rules on multiple support agreements, explained earlier, do not apply).
  3. The child is in the custody of one or both parents for more than half of the year.
  4. Either of the following statements is true.
    1. The custodial parent signs a written declaration, discussed later, that he or she will not claim the child as a dependent for the year, and the noncustodial parent attaches this written declaration to his or her return. (If the decree or agreement went into effect after 1984 and before 2009, see Post-1984 and pre-2009 divorce decree or separation agreement, later. If the decree or agreement went into effect after 2008, see Post-2008 divorce decree or separation agreement, later.)
    2. A pre-1985 decree of divorce or separate maintenance or written separation agreement that applies to 2010 states that the noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent, the decree or agreement was not changed after 1984 to say the noncustodial parent cannot claim the child as a dependent, and the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 for the child's support during the year.
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Custodial parent and noncustodial parent.(p34)
The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the year. The other parent is the noncustodial parent.
If the parents divorced or separated during the year and the child lived with both parents before the separation, the custodial parent is the one with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights during the rest of the year.
A child is treated as living with a parent for a night if the child sleeps:
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Equal number of nights.(p35)
If the child lived with each parent for an equal number of nights during the year, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income.
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December 31.(p35)
The night of December 31 is treated as part of the year in which it begins. For example, December 31, 2010, is treated as part of 2010.
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Emancipated child.(p35)
If a child is emancipated under state law, the child is treated as not living with either parent.
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Absences.(p35)
If a child was not with either parent on a particular night (because, for example, the child was staying at a friend's house), the child is treated as living with the parent with whom the child normally would have lived for that night, except for the absence. But if it cannot be determined with which parent the child normally would have lived or if the child would not have lived with either parent that night, the child is treated as not living with either parent that night.
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Parent works at night.(p35)
If, due to a parent's nighttime work schedule, a child lives for a greater number of days but not nights with the parent who works at night, that parent is treated as the custodial parent. On a school day, the child is treated as living at the primary residence registered with the school.
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Written declaration.(p35)
The custodial parent may use either Form 8332 or a similar statement (containing the same information required by the form) to make the written declaration to release the exemption to the noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent must attach a copy of the form or statement to his or her tax return.
The exemption can be released for 1 year, for a number of specified years (for example, alternate years), or for all future years, as specified in the declaration.
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Post-1984 and pre-2009 divorce decree or separation agreement.(p35)
If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 1984 and before 2009, the noncustodial parent may be able to attach certain pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332. The decree or agreement must state all three of the following.
  1. The noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent without regard to any condition, such as payment of support.
  2. The custodial parent will not claim the child as a dependent for the year.
  3. The years for which the noncustodial parent, rather than the custodial parent, can claim the child as a dependent.
The noncustodial parent must attach all of the following pages of the decree or agreement to his or her tax return.
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Post-2008 divorce decree or separation agreement.(p35)
The noncustodial parent can no longer attach pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332 if the decree or agreement went into effect after 2008. The custodial parent must sign either Form 8332 or a similar statement whose only purpose is to release the custodial parent's claim to an exemption for a child, and the noncustodial parent must attach a copy to his or her return. The form or statement must release the custodial parent's claim to the child without any conditions. For example, the release must not depend on the noncustodial parent paying support.
EIC
The noncustodial parent must attach the required information even if it was filed with a return in an earlier year.
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Revocation of release of claim to an exemption.(p35)
The custodial parent can revoke a release of claim to an exemption that he or she previously released to the noncustodial parent on Form 8332 or a similar statement. If the custodial parent provided, or made reasonable efforts to provide, the noncustodial parent with written notice of the revocation in 2009, the revocation can be effective no earlier than 2010. The custodial parent can use Part III of Form 8332 for this purpose and must attach a copy of the revocation to his or her return for each tax year he or she claims the child as a dependent as a result of the revocation.
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Remarried parent.(p35)
If you remarry, the support provided by your new spouse is treated as provided by you.
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Child support under pre-1985 agreement.(p35)

rule
All child support payments actually received from the noncustodial parent under a pre-1985 agreement are considered used for the support of the child.
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Example.(p35)

Under a pre-1985 agreement, the noncustodial parent provides $1,200 for the child's support. This amount is considered support provided by the noncustodial parent even if the $1,200 was actually spent on things other than support.
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Alimony.(p35)
Payments to a spouse that are includible in the spouse's gross income as either alimony, separate maintenance payments, or similar payments from an estate or trust, are not treated as a payment for the support of a dependent.
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Parents who never married.(p35)

rule
This special rule for divorced or separated parents also applies to parents who never married and lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of the year.
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Multiple support agreement.(p35)

rule
If the support of the child is determined under a multiple support agreement, this special support test for divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart does not apply.