Claiming an Unrelated Dependent on Your Taxes

Claiming a dependent does increase your refund amount when you file your taxes. To  claim an unrelated person as a dependent  on your tax return you have to meet specific conditions . These conditions are more stringent than a direct dependent (son, daughter or parent). Here are some of the requirements to claim an unrelated dependent on your tax return :

1. The person is a US citizen or resident of the US, Canada or Mexico.

2. The person is not the Qualifying Child of another taxpayer.

3. The person does not file a joint return with another taxpayer.

4. The person lived in your home for the entire tax year.

5. The person had less than the personal exemption amount ($3,650 for 2009 & 2010) in gross income (excluding only non-taxable Social Security) for the entire year. Gross income includes all income from all sources before any deductions whatsoever, including normal business expense deductions.

6. The person received more than 50% of their total support from you for the entire year.

7. There is no state law or local law or ordinance that prohibits cohabitation. Any such law or ordinance, even if unenforced, kills the exemption. Mississippi, Virginia, West Virginia, Florida, North Dakota and Michigan still have laws that prohibit cohabitation as do a number of cities, towns and counties throughout the country.

The IRS publication 501 gives you detailed information about the rules for claiming dependents on your tax return.


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