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Your parents can claim you as a dependent after the age of 18 if you continue to meet the stipulations set by the IRS. This can help them gain tax benefits meant to balance out the costs of maintaining your living expenses.
Depending on your age, though, you may fall into either a qualifying child category or a qualifying relative category. Here's what you need to know about being claimed as a dependent and how it may affect the taxes you file yourself.
Who Qualifies as a Dependent?
At almost any point in your life, your parents may claim you as a dependent if you meet the necessary qualifying criteria. Whether they are supporting you through college or helping you after a divorce, there may be an option for claiming you on their taxes.
To qualify as a dependent, you must fall under one of two categories: qualifying child or qualifying relative.
A qualifying child:
- Is younger than the filer
- Is younger than 19 (or younger than 24 if they are a full-time student) or permanently and totally disabled
- Must live with the filer for more than half the year (certain exceptions apply)
- Does not provide half of their own support
A qualifying relative:
- Can be any age
- Must live with the filer for an entire year or pass the IRS Member of Household or Relationship Test
- Gets more than half of their support from the filer
- Earns less than $4,300 annually
In either case, the qualifying person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
If you meet these qualifications, your parents may be able to claim you as a dependent on their taxes.
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What Are the Pros and Cons of Being Claimed as a Dependent?
Dependent status provides limited positives for the dependent from a tax perspective. However, many adult children are happy to let their parents claim them as a tradeoff for their parents' support while they are in college or still receiving most of their financial support from family.
Claiming you as a dependent is an attractive option for your parents because it can reduce their tax liability. If your parents continue to claim you as a dependent after you turn 18, they may be able to take advantage of tax breaks like:
- The credit for other dependents
- A potentially higher earned income tax credit
- Form 1098-T education credits
- Student loan interest deduction
- Medical expenses deduction
Your standard deduction also decreases if your parents claim you on their taxes. It may be reduced to either $1,100 or your earned income plus $350, whichever is greater.
Do You Have to File Taxes as a Dependent?
If your parents claim you as a dependent on their taxes, you may still need to file your own tax return.
As a dependent, you will need to file taxes if you received over $1,100 of unearned income, $12,550 of earned income, or a gross income that was greater than $1,100 or $350 plus your earned income up to $12,200.
If you file your own tax return, be careful not to claim any credits your parents already claim with you as a dependent, such as the American opportunity tax credit for qualified education expenses.
When Are You Disqualified From Being Claimed as a Dependent?
You are disqualified from being claimed as a dependent by your parents when you are no longer considered a qualifying child or relative according to the IRS rules noted above. For example, if you live on your own and provide more than half of your own support, you no longer qualify as a dependent.