DEFINITION of 'Qualifying Relative'

A federal income tax designation that allows a taxpayer to claim as a dependent someone for whom he or she provided considerable financial support during the tax year. Claiming a qualifying relative as a dependent will allow the taxpayer to take an additional exemption, which will reduce his taxable income, dollar for dollar.

BREAKING DOWN 'Qualifying Relative'

The IRS requires four tests to be passed for a person to be classified as a qualifying relative. They must not be a qualifying child; they must live in the taxpayer's household (but certain types of relatives, including children, siblings, parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, certain in-laws and certain step-relatives are not required to live in the household); must have had a gross income of less than $3,650 (in 2009), and must have received more than half of their financial support for the year from the taxpayer. A qualifying relative can be any age. IRS Publication 501 provides details about meeting the qualifying relative tests.

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