Can a Person Claim Another Person on a Tax Return if They Are Not Married?

by A. Elizabeth Freeman, Demand Media

    Claiming another person as a dependent on your taxes often leads to savings. As of the date of publication, you could subtract $3,800 from your income for each person you claimed on your return. You can claim another person as a dependent on your tax return whether you are a married or not, but you can't claim a person who files a joint return as a dependent, unless that person owes no money on the return.

    Qualifying Child

    The IRS lets you claim a dependent as a qualifying child if he is your own child or foster child. You can also claim a brother or sister or a half- or step-sibling as your qualifying child. The child needs to be under the age of 19 or under age 24 if he is in school full-time. The age limit is waived if the child is permanently disabled. The person also needs to be younger than you, so you can't claim your older brother as a qualifying child. You need to provide at least half of his support and he needs to live with you for at least half of the year.

    Qualifying Relative

    Before you can claim a person as a qualifying relative, he needs to meet four requirements set out by the IRS. First, he can't be a qualifying child. Second, he needs to live with you for the entire year. There are some exceptions to the requirement that you be living in the same house, though. Your parents, siblings, children who aren't qualifying children and stepparents do not need to live with you. A qualifying relative needs to earn less than $3,700 per year and you do need to provide at least half of his support. A person can't be a qualifying relative if your relationship somehow breaks local law.

    Other Rules

    If you want to claim another on your tax return, he needs to meet a few more requirements aside from being a qualifying child or relative. A person can be claimed on only one tax return. If you have a child with another person, you have to decide who can claim the child. Usually, the person who provides the most support or with whom the child lives the most during the year gets to claim him as a dependent. Additionally, to be claimed as a dependent, the person needs to be a U.S. citizen, national or resident, or a resident of either Canada or Mexico.

    If Someone Claims You

    If another person can claim you as a dependent, you don't get to claim anyone else as your own dependent. You don't even get to claim an exemption for yourself if someone else claims you. You might still have to file a return even if you are claimed as a dependent, depending on your income.

    About the Author

    Based in Pennsylvania, A. Elizabeth Freeman has been writing professionally since 2007, when she started writing theater reviews for OffOffOnline.com and Theater Talk's New Theater Corps blog. Since then, she has written for Phillyist, TheNest, ModernMom and "Rhode Island Home and Design" magazine, among others. Freeman has an Master of Fine Arts in dramaturgy/theater criticism from CUNY/Brooklyn College.