Instructions for Claiming Someone as a Dependent on a 1040 Tax Form

If necessary, consult the IRS or a tax preparer to clarify dependent eligibility.

If necessary, consult the IRS or a tax preparer to clarify dependent eligibility.

If you have a dependent, you can claim her as an allowance on your Form W-4. Each allowance or dependent that you claim on your W-4 lowers the federal income tax that will be withheld from your paycheck. At tax time, to reduce your tax liability, you can claim the dependent on Form 1040. Before you complete your 1040, verify that anyone you claim is truly a dependent.

Eligibility Clarification

The dependent must meet the Internal Revenue Service’s citizenship, support, gross income, joint return and relationship tests. A child is your dependent if she’s related to you, lives with you, relies on you for financial support and is under the age of 19 -- or younger than 24 if she’s a full-time student. She must be a citizen or resident of the United States, and no one else should be able to claim her as a dependent. Your relative is a dependent if she lived with you all year or qualifies as a relative who doesn't have to live with you, such as your child, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister or grandparent. You must provide more than half of her total annual support, she cannot earn more than $3,900 for the year and no one else can claim her as a dependent.

Dependent Exemption

In 2013, each dependent you claim on your 1040 lowers your taxable income by $3,900. When completing the form, put your dependent’s information on the respective line, including her name, Social Security number and relationship to you. This data goes on line 6(c) of the 2013 form. On line 43, put the total value of your exemptions, which is $3,900 multiplied by your total number of claimed exemptions, including your dependents.

Claiming Your Spouse

You cannot claim your spouse as a dependent, but if you're filing jointly, you can claim an exemption for him and yourself, respectively, on lines 6(a) and 6(b) of your 1040. If you're filing separately, you can claim an exemption for him only if he's not filing a joint return, had no annual gross income and no one else can claim him as a dependent. The exemption amount is the same as if he were a dependent.

Dependent Credits

If you have a qualifying child under 17, you can probably take the child tax credit of up to $1,000 for tax year 2013. Indicate this eligibility by checking the appropriate box on line 6(c) of your 1040. Enter the credit amount on line 51. If you received less than the maximum allowed credit, you might qualify for an additional child tax credit. There's also the child and dependent care credit, which you may claim if you paid someone to care for your dependent. The credit amount, which is typically a percentage of the expenses you paid, goes on line 48 of your 1040. If you meet the IRS' income criteria and other requirements, such as having a qualifying child, you can take the earned income tax credit, which goes on line 64(a) of your 1040.


About the Author

Grace Ferguson has been writing professionally since 2009. With 10 years of experience in employee benefits and payroll administration, Ferguson has written extensively on topics relating to employment and finance. A research writer as well, she has been published in The Sage Encyclopedia and Mission Bell Media.

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