What Is a Qualifying Relative?
A qualifying relative, designated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), can be claimed as a dependent by a taxpayer, assuming the taxpayer provided considerable financial support for the relative during the tax year.
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the deduction for qualifying relative exemptions for tax years 2018 through 2025. However, taxpayers may claim other tax benefits, such as the child tax credit, earned income tax credit, and child and dependent care credit.
- A qualifying relative is a dependent you can claim when filing your taxes.
- Before claiming a qualifying relative, examine how much income your relative makes, how much support you provide for them, and your relationship with them.
- As a dependent, a qualifying relative can provide the taxpayer tax credits that accompany the addition of the relative to the household.
- The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the deduction for qualifying relative exemptions for tax years 2018 through 2025, however, taxpayers may claim other tax benefits.
Understanding Qualifying Relatives
A taxpayer can claim a dependent and receive potential tax credits that may accompany the addition of that person to the household. A qualifying relative is one of two dependents you can claim on your tax return. The other dependent is a qualifying child. Before claiming someone as a qualifying relative, you must examine how much income your relative makes, how much support you provide for them, and your relationship with them. The IRS uses several tests to define a qualifying relative.
IRS Qualifying Relative Tests
If you claim a qualifying relative, your dependent cannot claim their own dependents, cannot be married and file a joint return, and must be a citizen, national, or resident alien of the United States or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
- The qualifying relative must not be a qualifying child of the taxpayer or anyone else.
- The qualifying relative must live in the household during the tax year or be related to the taxpayer as a child, sibling, parent, grandparent, niece or nephew, aunt or uncle, certain in-law, or step-relative.
- Someone who is not related to the taxpayer can become a qualifying relative by living with the taxpayer all year. A person who died during the year but lived with the taxpayer until death or was born during the year and lived with the taxpayer for the rest of the year is considered a qualifying relative, even though that person didn’t live with the taxpayer for the year.
- The qualifying relative must have a gross income of less than $4,400 in 2022.
- The qualifying relative must have received more than half of their financial support for the year from the taxpayer.
IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deductions, and Filing Information provides details about meeting the qualifying tests, information about being a qualifying child, filing as head of household, special custody and residency situations, and other deductions. This official publication gives detailed information on how to file when multiple taxpayers provide support for the same person; limits of earning a salary, hourly wages, or receiving money from other sources to stay under the limit for a qualifying relative; and what qualifies a person as living temporarily away from the taxpayer.
What Is the Difference Between a Qualifying Child and a Qualifying Relative?
A taxpayer must choose to claim a dependent as a qualifying child or qualifying relative. If a dependent meets these criteria, they are considered a qualifying child and not a qualifying relative:
- A qualifying child is commonly the taxpayer’s biological or adopted child but may be a stepchild or a foster child.
- A sibling, half-sibling, or step-sibling may also qualify as a qualifying child.
- A qualifying child must meet be younger than the taxpayer and under age 19 or a full-time student under 24 years old. The age requirement does not apply if the qualifying child is permanently disabled during the tax year.
Am I Eligible for an Earned Income Tax Credit for a Qualifying Relative?
Someone who only meets the “qualifying relative” test is never eligible to be claimed for purposes of the EITC. The relative must be a child, stepchild, eligible foster child, adopted child, brother, sister, half-sibling, stepsibling, or descendant of any of these individuals.
What Is the Support Test When Claiming Qualifying Relatives?
The taxpayer must provide more than 50% of the person’s support for the tax year. This support test differs from the one for a qualifying child, which tests whether the child provided more than one-half of their support. When calculating total support, taxpayers should compare their contributions with the entire amount of support the person received from all sources, such as taxable income, tax-exempt income, and loans.
The Bottom Line
A qualifying relative is a dependent you can claim on your taxes, but you must determine how much income your relative makes, how much support you provide for them, and your relationship with them. A qualifying relative provides the taxpayer tax credits that accompany the addition of the relative to the household. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act suspended the deduction for qualifying relative exemptions for tax years 2018 through 2025, but taxpayers may be able to claim other tax benefits.