DEFINITION of Member of Household

A member of household is a person who is claimed as a dependent when filing year-end tax forms. Such a dependent allows a taxpayer to qualify for the dependency exemption. A member of household can be a relative or a non-relative, but in order for a non-relative to be claimed as a member of household, he or she must meet the relationship requirements outlined by the IRS.

BREAKING DOWN Member of Household

State and federal authorities can define who is regarded as a member of household, with some possibility of variation by jurisdiction. The individuals must either live within the household for the tax year in question, or they may qualify as a member of household if they are a relative who does not live with the taxpayer if they meet certain criteria.

There are, however, allowances for absences from the household during the tax year. These can include being apart from the household due to illness, being away for education such as attending college, taking a vacation, absence due to business needs, fulfilling military service, or being detained in a juvenile detention facility. Furthermore, if an individual is placed in a nursing home for an indefinite, unspecified time in order to receive constant medical care, it is still deemed a temporary absence, and the individual is considered to be part of the household.

Who Is Counted as a Member of Household

  • To be considered a member of household, a person must be at least one of the following:
  • Lineal descendant (child, grandchild, great-grandchild; step-lineal descendants such as stepchildren are included)
  • Brother or sister (includes stepbrothers/stepsisters and half-brothers/half-sisters)
  • Lineal ancestor (parent, grandparent, great-grandparent; step-lineal ancestors are included)
  • Niece, nephew, aunt or uncle (not including relations by marriage)
  • In-law (father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law)
  • Anyone else who is neither related nor married to you, but who lives in your home for the entire year

Members of household can also be claimed if they resided at the domicile but died during the year. Newborns brought home from the hospital may also be claimed has members of household.

If the relationship between the tax filer and the person in question violates local law, they may not be considered a member of household. For instance, if the tax filer is in a personal relationship with someone who lives in their home, but the person is actually married to someone else, the latter party cannot be claimed as a member of household.