TaxAlmanac:Featured article/February 9, 2006

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Uniform Definition of a Qualifying Child

Beginning in 2005, one definition of a "qualifying child" will apply for each of the following tax benefits.

  • Dependency exemption.
  • Head of household filing status.
  • Earned income credit (EIC).
  • Child tax credit.
  • Credit for child and dependent care expenses.

Tests To Meet

In general, all four of the following tests must be met to claim someone as a qualifying child.

Relationship test. The child must be your child (including an adopted child, stepchild, or eligible foster child), brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendent of one of these relatives.
An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption even if the adoption is not final.
An eligible foster child is any child who is placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.
Residency test. The child must live with you for more than half of the year. Temporary absences for special circumstances, such as for school, vacation, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility count as time lived at home. A child who was born or died during the year is considered to have lived with you for the entire year if your home was the child's home for the entire time he or she was alive during the year. Also, exceptions apply, in certain cases, for children of divorced or separated parents and parents of kidnapped children. For more information, see Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

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