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Follow the steps below to determine if you have a dependent and to see which tax benefits you may qualify for as a result. TaxACT will automatically calculate any credit you can take based on your entries. For the tax credits listed below, your dependent and income information must be entered before the program can make the calculations.

Step 1: Determine if You Have a Dependent

Step 2: Determine Which Qualifications You Meet

Step 3: Make the Entries in TaxACT

Determine if You Have a Dependent

Use the chart below to determine if you have any qualifying children or relatives.


Rules for Claiming an Exemption for a Dependent

  • You cannot claim any dependents if you, or your spouse if filing jointly, could be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
  • You cannot claim a married person who files a joint return as a dependent unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.
  • You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
  • You cannot claim a person as a dependent unless that person is your qualifying child or qualifying relative.

Tests To Be a Qualifying Child

Tests To Be a Qualifying Relative

  1. The child must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
  2. The child must be (a) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), (b) under age 24 at the end of the year, a student, and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), or (c) any age if permanently and totally disabled.
  3. The child must have lived with you for more than half of the year.
  4. The child must not have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
  5. The child is not filing a joint return for the year (unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid).

If the child meets the rules to be a qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can actually treat the child as a qualifying child.

  1. The person cannot be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of any other taxpayer.
  2. The person either (a) must be related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you on page 19 of IRS Publication 501, or (b) must live with you all year as a member of your household (and your relationship must not violate local law).
  3. The person's gross income for the year must be less than $3,950.
  4. You must provide more than half of the person's total support for the year.
Note: There are exceptions for persons who are adopted, disabled, deceased, or children of divorced, separated, or temporarily absent parents. See IRS Publication 501 for more information.

If you have a qualifying child or relative, you must enter the dependent's information in your TaxACT return. Click the Basic Info tab, then Dependents just below the blue tabs. After your dependent and income information have been entered, the program can calculate the credits below, if applicable.

Determine Which Qualifications You Meet

Once you determine whether your dependent is a qualifying child or qualifying relative, refer to the chart below to see if the relationship can be used to calculate a credit or qualify for a certain filing status.



If your QUALIFYING CHILD is:

Can the child be used to claim:
Earned Income Credit Child Tax Credit Child and Dependent Care Credit Head of Household Filing Status Qualifying Widow(er) Filing Status
Your son, daughter, stepson, or stepdaughter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
A descendant of your son, daughter, or stepchild Yes Yes Yes Yes No
An eligible foster child Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Your brother, sister, stepbrother, or stepsister Yes Yes Yes Yes No
A descendant of your sibling or stepsibling Yes Yes Yes Yes No

If your QUALIFYING RELATIVE is:

Can the relative be used to claim:
Earned Income Credit Child Tax Credit Child and Dependent Care Credit Head of Household Filing Status Qualifying Widow(er) Filing Status
Your son, daughter, stepson, or stepdaughter No No Yes Yes Yes
A descendant of your son, daughter, or stepchild No No Yes Yes No
An eligible foster child No No Yes Yes No
Your brother, sister, or a descendant of your brother or sister No No Yes Yes No
Your father or mother, or the sibling or descendant of your father or mother No No Yes Yes No
Your stepsibling or stepparent No No Yes Yes No
Your son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law No No Yes Yes No
Note: You must be unmarried to file Head of Household. If you are considered unmarried (defined on page 8 of IRS Publication 501), you may only file Head of Household if the qualifying individual is your son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, or an eligible foster child.

Important: You must meet other conditions to qualify for a credit or filing status listed above. See the following help topics for additional information and qualifications you need to consider:

Make the Necessary Entries in Your TaxACT Return

If you qualify and wish to enter or review information for a credit:

  1. Enter your dependent information under Basic Info if you haven't already
  2. Click on the Federal Q&A tab
    • For the Child and Dependent Care Credit, click Child and Dependent Care
    • For the Earned Income Credit, click Other Credits to expand the category, then click Earned income credit
    • For the Child Tax Credit, click Other Credits to expand the category, then click Child tax credit
  3. The program will proceed with the interview questions for you to enter or review the applicable information. Remember that these credits cannot calculate until your dependent, income, and other specific information has been entered. 

If you qualify and wish to change your filing status:

  1. Click on the Federal Q&A tab
  2. Click Basic Information to expand the category, then click Filing Status
  3. Select the status you would like to use

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