How Old Does a Child Need to Be to Be Claimed for Tax Returns?

Your child can be claimed as a dependent from the date of birth.
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Any child you're raising can be an income tax deduction. However, the Internal Revenue Service does have rules about this, including age restrictions. For starters, you have to get a Social Security number from the Social Security Administration for any child before she can be claimed. After that, you have to be able to prove the child's age and that you have the right to claim her as a dependent.

Qualifying Age

Usually, a child must be less than 19 years old during the entire year to be claimed as a dependent. Each dependent child entitles you to take $3,800 off of your gross income. You can also claim an additional withholding allowance for each child on your W-4 form at work. That reduces the amount of tax withheld so you immediately get the benefit of the tax deduction. If you've got a newborn, the baby qualifies immediately as a dependent.

Age Exceptions

When a child is a student, you may still claim him on your tax return as long as he is under age 24 during the tax year. The age limit is waived entirely for dependent children who are permanently disabled. A qualifying child you claim other than your biological child must be younger than you are or younger than your spouse.

Tax Credits

You may qualify for one or more tax credits for a dependent child. For the Child Tax Credit, the child must be less than 17 in that tax year. The child must be under age 13 to claim her under the Child and Dependent Care Credit. She must have been younger than that when the expenses were paid. The age limit is waived for children incapable of self-care. The age requirements for the Earned Income Tax Credit are the same as those used to claim a child as a dependent.

Other Requirements

Age alone does not make your child a qualifying child. The IRS defines a child as any underage person you care for, including a sibling. The child must share a permanent address with you for at least half of the year, and can't provide more than half of her own support. The child also can't claim herself as a dependent and can't be claimed by anyone else.

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