DEFINITION of 'Citizenship Test'

One of the key criteria set forth by the IRS that a person must satisfy in order to be claimed as someone else's dependent. The citizenship test dictates that the prospective dependent must be a citizen of the U.S., a resident Mexico or Canada, or an adopted alien child who has lived with the taxpayer for the entire year. If none of these criteria are met, then the child or person cannot be claimed as a dependent under any circumstances.

BREAKING DOWN 'Citizenship Test'

The Citizenship Test, from Internal Revenue Code Section 151(a) and (c), is one of several tests that must be met in order for someone to be claimed as a dependent. The others include the relationship test, the gross income test, the support test and the joint return test. This Citizenship Test is not to be confused with the test that is administered to immigrants seeking citizenship in this country.

There are two ways and individual may be classified as a US citizen. One may either be born within the U.S. or one must become naturalized, which is a legal process governed either by a treaty or by congressional authority. U.S. citizens whose children are born outside the U.S. and who do not regularly reside in the U.S. use an Application for Certificate of Citizenship to apply for citizenship for their children when certain conditions are satisfied. Furthermore, both the citizen parent and the child must succumb to interviews with a United States immigration officers, and the child in question must satisfy a set of required conditions at the time his or her Oath of Allegiance is taken.


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 and the child was born in a foreign country. In this case, as long as the other dependency tests are met, the child is your dependent and you may take the exemption—even if the child lives abroad with the nonresident alien parent.

If you are a U.S. Citizen living abroad, who has legally adopted a child who is not a U.S. citizen or resident, and the other dependency tests are met, the child is deemed to be your dependent, therefore you may take the exemption if your home is the child’s main residence, and the child is a member of your household for your entire tax year.

  1. Relationship Test

    The Relationship Test is test one must pass in order to be claimed ...
  2. Joint Return Test

    The joint-return test is a test dependents must pass in order ...
  3. Dual-Status Taxpayer

    A taxpayer that has met the criteria to be both a resident and ...
  4. Dependent

    A dependent is a person who entitles a taxpayer to claim dependent-related ...
  5. Resident Alien

    A resident alien is a foreign born, non-U.S. citizen who is currently ...
  6. Acceptance Testing

    Acceptance testing, in the engineering and software industries, ...
Related Articles
  1. Insights

    Ace the U.S. Citizenship Test!

    A guide to the U.S. citizenship test for immigrants.
  2. Personal Finance

    How To Claim A Dependent On Your Tax Return

    If you are a caregiver, get to know the rules for claiming a dependent before filing your taxes.
  3. Managing Wealth

    Record Number of People Renounced Their U.S. Citizenship in 2016

    This year, the highest number of Americans ever took the irrevocable step of giving up their citizenship. Here's why.
  4. Taxes

    Tax Rules for Resident and Nonresident Aliens

    This article examines the definition and tax treatment of these types of non-U.S. citizens.
  5. Retirement

    5 Developed Countries That Welcome Expats

    Investigate these expat havens if you seek a developed country with low barriers for getting a permanent resident visa – sometimes even citizenship.
  6. Investing

    Why Are So Many Renouncing U.S. Citizenship?

    One reason many Americans are renouncing citizenship may be the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act.
  7. Taxes

    The 5 Countries Without Income Taxes

    Discover information on some of the best countries to consider relocating to that offer the financial benefit of charging no income tax.
  8. Retirement

    Best Places to Retire Abroad

    Mexico beats Panama out for the best country to retire to. Check out why, and other news about the best retirement countries.
  9. Personal Finance

    Taxing Times For Divorced Parents

    Find out how to deal with the tax issues that arise for divorced parents with dependent children.
  10. Personal Finance

    Top 20 Countries With the Highest GMAT Scores

    A total of 42 countries had higher average scores than the U.S. in the last testing year.
Hot Definitions
  1. Financial Risk

    Financial risk is the possibility that shareholders will lose money when investing in a company if its cash flow fails to ...
  2. Enterprise Value (EV)

    Enterprise Value (EV) is a measure of a company's total value, often used as a more comprehensive alternative to equity market ...
  3. Relative Strength Index - RSI

    Relative Strength Indicator (RSI) is a technical momentum indicator that compares the magnitude of recent gains to recent ...
  4. Dividend

    A dividend is a distribution of a portion of a company's earnings, decided by the board of directors, to a class of its shareholders.
  5. Inventory Turnover

    Inventory turnover is a ratio showing how many times a company has sold and replaces inventory over a period.
  6. Watchlist

    A watchlist is list of securities being monitored for potential trading or investing opportunities.
Trading Center