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.

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