When do I lose my child as a dependent?

My Daughter
A lot of my clients ask this questions when their children are getting ready to graduate from high school.

I added this picture of my daughter because shes 4 going on 18

It’s pretty black and white as far as the IRS is concerned. I say as far as the IRS is concerned because we all know that just because our kids are 18 doesn’t mean they are no longer our dependents. We will support them until we are no longer able to or they can support themselves. Let’s hope the latter of the two happens first.

The law states that your child is your dependent until the age of 18, at the end of the year. So if your child is 18 on December 31st they are your dependent, if they are 19 on December 20 they are not your dependent.

However, if your child is 19 but under the age of 24  at the end of the year and is in school for at least 5 months out of the year they may also still be your dependent. I say, may be your dependent, because they still need to meet the other requirements of a dependent.

The one that most people fail is the support test. You must have provided at least half of their support. A quick and easy way to determine whether you provided more than half of their support, is to divide your income by your number of dependents and if it’s more than the amount they earned for the year, excluding the amount they saved in a savings account, you most likely passed the support test.

For more information on dependents go to www.irs.gov/publications/p501/ar02.html

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