- My Dollar Plan - https://www.mydollarplan.com -

When Do Dependents Have to File Taxes?

Did you know that if someone else claims you as a dependent [1] on their taxes, you might still need to file a tax return? It all depends on whether or not you meet one or some of the criteria in the five dependency tests — relationship, gross income, support, joint return and citizenship/residency. Let’s take a look and see if you qualify for filing a tax return as a dependent.

What is a Dependent?

A person classified as a dependent [1] cannot claim an exemption [2]; subsequently, the person who claims the dependent can claim this exemption on their tax return. This is a significant amount of tax savings up for grabs, so it’s important to know how the IRS defines a dependent. Aside from this, if you claim yourself, and someone else claims you as a dependent, then the IRS will eventually catch up with both of you—something you want to avoid.

A dependent can be a qualifying child [1], or a qualifying relative. In a nutshell, for parents to claim a child as a dependent:

  • The child must have lived in their home for more than half the year.
  • The parents must provide at least half of the child’s support.
  • The child must either be under 19 or a full-time student/under 24.

To meet the relationship test, you must be a relative or live in the person’s home for the entire year. To claim someone as a dependent, that person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. There is an exception to this rule for certain adopted children [3].

When Do Dependents Have to File Taxes?

There are several reasons why you may still need to file a tax return even if you are claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return.

Kids will need to file taxes if they meet the income limits [4].

You also may need to file a tax return if you meet one of the following four conditions:

  • You owe a special tax (see IRS Publication 501 [5] for more information on this)
  • You/spouse if filing jointly received Archer MSA, Medicare Advantage, MSA, or health savings account [6] distributions
  • You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400
  • You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.

For specifics, check out IRS Publication 501 [5]. For some dependent tips from the IRS, see IRS Six Important FAQs about Dependents [7].

Tip: If you are a dependent of another person, you cannot claim any dependents on your own return.

More Tax Topics