DEFINITION of Relationship Test

One of several tests that a person must pass in order to be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. The relationship test has several criteria, and as long as any one of them is met, the person in question is eligible to be claimed as a dependent by another. The relationship test mandates that the person in question must be a lineal descendant or ancestor, sibling, in-law, niece, nephew, aunt, uncle or anyone other than the taxpayer's spouse who lived in the taxpayer's household during the entire year.

There is a separate relationship test to see if someone is a qualifying child (see below).

BREAKING DOWN Relationship Test

The relationship test for a qualifying child mandates that the child be the taxpayer's child, stepchild, foster child, adopted child or any descendant thereof, including a taxpayers’ grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Children who meet the criteria allow the taxpayer claiming them to receive their dependency exemptions.  This test is one of four tests that a child must pass in order to be considered a qualifying child. The others include citizenship tests, age tests and support tests.

A taxpayer may also claim someone other than his or her direct lineal descendant as a dependent, however, the individual in question must be younger in age, such as a taxpayer’s younger brother, younger sister, younger step-sibling or the offspring of any of these examples. And for the purposes of the relationship test, divorce or death does not change any of the aforementioned relationship statuses that were previously established by marriage. A foster child meets the relationship test if the youngster is placed in a taxpayers home by an authorized agency or by a judgment or decree or by order of a court or other legally recognized jurisdiction.

Taxpayers are entitled to claim one exemption for each person they can claim as a dependent, and they may claim exemptions for dependents even said dependent files his or her own returns. Taxpayers must provide more than half of the potential dependent’s total support for the year, however exceptions may be made if there are multiple support agreements, children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart, children who are kidnapped, and children who were born or died during the year. The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer, and the person's gross income for the year must be less than $4,200, with the exception of certain disabled individuals, who have income from sheltered workshops.