On the Income Tax Form Can You Claim Your 17-Year-Old As a Dependent?

The IRS maintains strict guidelines for claiming dependents.

The IRS maintains strict guidelines for claiming dependents.

Determining dependent eligibility is anything but simple, even if the person in question is your child. To be able to claim your 17-year-old as a dependent, she must meet a set of criteria laid down by the Internal Revenue Service. If you are able to claim your teen as a dependent, you'll be rewarded with extra exemptions, deductions and credits on your tax return.

Tax Effect

Claiming your 17-year-old as a dependent can significantly reduce your annual tax bill. You receive an extra personal exemption for every dependent you claim, which is $3,900 for the 2013 tax year. There are several tax credits you can only claim if you have dependents, like the earned-income tax credit and the child tax credit. If you paid for your teen's medical expenses and educational expenses, you can claim more in itemized deductions and educational credits.

Dependent Criteria

To claim someone as a dependent, he must meet a few basic qualifications. The individual must be a U.S. citizen, national, resident, or a resident of Mexico or Canada. You must be the only person or couple claiming the individual as a dependent. Finally, you can't claim someone that is married or claiming a dependent of his own on his tax return.

Qualified Children

In addition to the general dependent criteria, a 17-year-old needs to have certain characteristics for you can claim him. First, he must be related to you. Natural children, stepchildren, adopted children, siblings and stepsiblings all qualify. A 17-year-old also qualifies to be an eligible child dependent because he is under 19. If he's permanently disabled, he can qualify at any age.

Living and Support

In addition to all of the above, you need to actually be supporting your 17-year-old in order to claim him as a dependent. The IRS looks at two categories when making this determination: residency and financial support. To qualify, your teen must have lived with you for more than half of the year. The IRS allows exceptions for absences due to illness, education, business, vacation or military service. You also must have provided your child with more than half of his financial support to claim him.

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About the Author

Based in San Diego, Calif., Madison Garcia is a writer specializing in business topics. Garcia received her Master of Science in accountancy from San Diego State University.

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