For federal tax purposes, you should also figure out who counts as a dependent, a spouse, and a child.
Who qualifies as a dependent?
People who do not live in the U.S. can count as a dependent and be claimed on your tax return if you provide more than 50% of their financial support.
Each dependent must have their own SSN or ITIN to be claimed on your income tax return. Dependents, even if they live outside the U.S. can include:
- Son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, great grandson, great granddaughter, stepson, stepdaughter, or adopted child
- Mother, father, stepmother, stepfather, grandparent, or great-grandparent
- Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, or stepsister
- Nephew or niece
- Aunt or uncle
- Son-in-law, daughter-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, father-in-law, or mother-in-law
- Foster child who was placed in your custody by court order or by an authorized government agency
Who qualifies as a spouse?
For federal tax purposes, marriage means a legal union between two people. The word spouse means a person of the same or opposite sex who is the taxpayer's husband or wife.
The U.S. recognizes marriages from outside of the U.S.
In general, you do not need to give proof of your marriage in order to claim a spouse as a qualifying dependent on your tax return. If the IRS contacts you for proof of your marriage, you should submit a copy of your U.S. or foreign marriage certificate at that time.
Who qualifies as a child?
To qualify as a child for federal tax purposes, all of the following must be true:
- Relationship: The person must be either (1) your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant (for example, your grandchild) of any of them; or (2) your brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant (for example, your niece or nephew) of any of them.
- Age: The person must be either (1) under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly); (2) a full-time student under age 24 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly); or (3) permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year, regardless of age.
- Residency: The person must have lived with you for more than half of the year. There are exceptions for temporary absences, children who were born or died during the year, kidnapped children, and children of divorced or separated parents.
- Support: The person cannot have provided more than half of his or her own support for the year.
- Joint Return: The person cannot file a joint return for the year.
For more information and examples, see Exemptions, Standard Deductions, and Filing Information.
Updated: January 2017