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IRS.gov Website
Instructions for Form 1040
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP183fbcf2

Who Qualifies as Your Dependent

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e3580

Dependents, Qualifying Child for Child Tax Credit, and Credit for Other Dependents (p20)

rule
Follow the steps below to find out if a person qualifies as your dependent, and to find out if your dependent qualifies you to take the child tax credit or the credit for other dependents. If you have more than four dependents, check the box on the right side of page 1 of Form 1040 (just above the Dependents section) and include a statement showing the information required in columns (1) through (4).
taxtip
The dependents you claim are those you list by name and SSN in the Dependents section on Form 1040.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink10004904
Before you begin.(p20)
rule
See the definition of Social security number, later. If you want to claim the child tax credit or the credit for other dependents, you (and your spouse if filing jointly) must have an SSN or ITIN issued on or before the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions). If an ITIN is applied for on or before the due date of a 2018 return (including extensions) and the IRS issues an ITIN as result of the application, the IRS will consider the ITIN as issued on or before the due date of the return.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP06663dbd

 Step 1   Do You Have a Qualifying Child?

A qualifying child is a child who is your...
Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew)
and
was ...
Under age 19 at the end of 2018 and younger than you
(or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Under age 24 at the end of 2018, a student (defined later), and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly)
or
Any age and permanently and totally disabled (defined later)
and
Who didn't provide over half of his or her own support for 2018 (see Pub. 501)
and
Who isn't filing a joint return for 2018
or is filing a joint return for 2018 only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 501 for details and examples)
and
Who lived with you for more than half of 2018. If the child didn't live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you, later.
caution If the child meets the conditions to be a qualifying child of any other person (other than your spouse if filing jointly) for 2018, see Qualifying child of more than one person, later.
1.  Do you have a child who meets the conditions to be your qualifying child?
Yes.   Go to Step 2.
No.   Go to Step 4.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP57974a2f

 Step 2   Is Your Qualifying Child Your Dependent?

1.  Was the child a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico? (See Pub. 519 for the definition of a U.S. national or U.S. resident alien. If the child was adopted, see Exception to citizen test, later.)
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't claim this child as a dependent.
2.  Was the child married?
Yes.   See Married person, later.
No.  Continue...
3.  Could you, or your spouse if filing jointly, be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2018 tax return? See Steps 1, 2, and 4.
Yes. Stop.  You can't claim any dependents. Complete the rest of Form 1040 and any applicable schedules.
No.  You can claim this child as a dependent. Complete columns (1) through (3) of the Dependents section for this child. Then, go to Step 3.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP006882ee

 Step 3   Does Your Qualifying Child Qualify You for the Child Tax Credit or Credit for Other Dependents?

1.  Did the child have an SSN, ITIN, or ATIN issued on or before the due date of your return (including extensions)? (Answer Yes if you are applying for an ITIN or ATIN for the child on or before the due date of your return (including extensions).)
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can’t claim the child tax credit or the credit for other dependents for this child.
2.  Was the child a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien? (See Pub. 519 for the definition of a U.S. national or U.S. resident alien. If the child was adopted, see Exception to citizen test, later.)
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can’t claim the child tax credit or the credit for other dependents for this child.
3.  Was the child under age 17 at the end of 2018?
Yes.  Continue...
No.  You can claim the credit for other dependents for this child. Check the credit for other dependents box in column (4) of the Dependents section for this person.
4.  Did this child have an SSN valid for employment issued before the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions)? (See Social Security Number, later.)
Yes.  You can claim the child tax credit for this person. Check the child tax credit box in column (4) of the Dependents section for this person.
No. Stop.  You can claim the credit for other dependents for this child. Check the credit for other dependents box in column (4) of the Dependents section for this person.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP513c4b34

 Step 4   Is Your Qualifying Relative Your Dependent?

A qualifying relative is a person who is your...
Son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild)
or
Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, or a son or daughter of any of them (for example, your niece or nephew)
or
Father, mother, or an ancestor or sibling of either of them (for example, your grandmother, grandfather, aunt, or uncle)
or
Stepbrother, stepsister, stepfather, stepmother, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law, or sister-in-law
or
Any other person (other than your spouse) who lived with you all year as a member of your household if your relationship didn't violate local law. If the person didn't live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you, later.
and
Who wasn't a qualifying child (see Step 1) of any taxpayer for 2018. For this purpose, a person isn't a taxpayer if he or she isn't required to file a U.S. income tax return and either doesn't file such a return or files only to get a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid. See Pub. 501 for details and examples.
and
Who had gross income of less than $4,150 in 2018. If the person was permanently and totally disabled, see Exception to gross income test, later.
and
For whom you provided over half of his or her support in 2018. But see Children of divorced or separated parents, Multiple support agreements, and Kidnapped child, later.
 
1.  Does any person meet the conditions to be your qualifying relative?
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  
2.  Was your qualifying relative a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico? (See Pub. 519 for the definition of a U.S. national or U.S. resident alien. If your qualifying relative was adopted, see Exception to citizen test, later.)
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can't claim this person as a dependent.
3.  Was your qualifying relative married?
Yes.   See Married person, later.
No.  Continue...
4.  Could you, or your spouse if filing jointly, be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2018 tax return? See Steps 1, 2, and 4.
Yes. Stop.  You can't claim any dependents. Complete the rest of Form 1040 and any applicable schedules.
No.  You can claim this person as a dependent. Complete columns (1) through (3) of the Dependents section. Then go to Step 5.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#TXMP5521987f

 Step 5   Does Your Qualifying Relative Qualify You for the Credit for Other Dependents?

1.  Did your qualifying relative have an SSN, ITIN, or adoption taxpayer identification number (ATIN) issued on or before the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions)? (Answer Yes if you are applying for an ITIN or ATIN for the qualifying relative on or before the return due date (including extensions).)
Yes.  Continue...
No. Stop.  You can’t claim the credit for other dependents for this qualifying relative.
2.  Was your qualifying relative a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or U.S. resident alien? (See Pub. 519 for the definition of a U.S. national or a U.S. resident alien. If your qualifying relative was adopted, see Exception to citizenship test, later.)
Yes.   You can claim the credit for other dependents for this dependent. Check the credit for other dependents box in column (4) of the Dependents section for this person.
No. Stop.   You can’t claim the credit for other dependents for this qualifying relative.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4073

Definitions and Special Rules (p22)

rule
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4079
Adopted child.(p22)
rule
An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4088
Adoption taxpayer identification numbers (ATINs).(p22)
rule
If you have a dependent who was placed with you for legal adoption and you don’t know his or her SSN, you must get an ATIN for the dependent from the IRS. See Form W-7A for details. If the dependent isn't a U.S. citizen or resident alien, apply for an ITIN instead, using Form W-7.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4096
Children of divorced or separated parents.(p22)
rule
A child will be treated as the qualifying child or qualifying relative of his or her noncustodial parent (defined later) if all of the following conditions apply.
  1. The parents are divorced, legally separated, separated under a written separation agreement, or lived apart at all times during the last 6 months of 2018 (whether or not they are or were married).
  2. The child received over half of his or her support for 2018 from the parents (and the rules on Multiple support agreements, later, don’t apply). Support of a child received from a parent's spouse is treated as provided by the parent.
  3. The child is in custody of one or both of the parents for more than half of 2018.
  4. Either of the following applies.
    1. The custodial parent signs Form 8332 or a substantially similar statement that he or she won't claim the child as a dependent for 2018, and the noncustodial parent includes a copy of the form or statement with his or her return. If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 1984 and before 2009, the noncustodial parent may be able to include certain pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332. See Post-1984 and pre-2009 decree or agreement and Post-2008 decree or agreement.
    2. A pre-1985 decree of divorce or separate maintenance or written separation agreement between the parents provides that the noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent, and the noncustodial parent provides at least $600 for support of the child during 2018.
If conditions (1) through (4) apply, only the noncustodial parent can claim the child for purposes of the child tax credits and credit for other dependents (lines 12a and 17b). However, this doesn't allow the noncustodial parent to claim head of household filing status, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, the earned income credit, or the health coverage tax credit. The custodial parent or another taxpayer, if eligible, can claim the child for the earned income credit and these other benefits. See Pub. 501 for details.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4150
Custodial and noncustodial parents.(p22)
The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights in 2018. The noncustodial parent is the other parent. If the child was with each parent for an equal number of nights, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income. See Pub. 501 for an exception for a parent who works at night, rules for a child who is emancipated under state law, and other details.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4159
Post-1984 and pre-2009 decree or agreement.(p23)
The decree or agreement must state all three of the following.
  1. The noncustodial parent can claim the child as a dependent without regard to any condition, such as payment of support.
  2. The other parent won't claim the child as a dependent.
  3. The years for which the claim is released.
The noncustodial parent must include all of the following pages from the decree or agreement.
caution
You must include the required information even if you filed it with your return in an earlier year.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4205
Post-2008 decree or agreement.(p23)
If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 2008, the noncustodial parent can't include pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332. The custodial parent must sign either Form 8332 or a substantially similar statement the only purpose of which is to release the custodial parent's claim to certain tax benefits for a child, and the noncustodial parent must include a copy with his or her return. The form or statement must release the custodial parent's claim to the child without any conditions. For example, the release must not depend on the noncustodial parent paying support.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4214
Release of certain tax benefits revoked.(p23)
A custodial parent who has revoked his or her previous release of a claim to certain tax benefits for a child must include a copy of the revocation with his or her return. For details, see Form 8332.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4234
Exception to citizen test.(p23)
rule
If you are a U.S. citizen or U.S. national and your adopted child lived with you all year as a member of your household, that child meets the requirement to be a U.S. citizen in Step 2, question 1; Step 3, question 2; Step 4, question 2; and Step 5, question 2.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4243
Exception to gross income test.(p23)
rule
If your relative (including a person who lived with you all year as a member of your household) is permanently and totally disabled (defined later), certain income for services performed at a sheltered workshop may be excluded for this test. For details, see Pub. 501.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4252
Exception to time lived with you.(p23)
rule
Temporary absences by you or the other person for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time the person lived with you. Also see Children of divorced or separated parents, earlier, or Kidnapped child, later.
If the person meets all other requirements to be your qualifying child but was born or died in 2018, the person is considered to have lived with you for more than half of 2018 if your home was this person's home for more than half the time he or she was alive in 2018.
Any other person is considered to have lived with you for all of 2018 if the person was born or died in 2018 and your home was this person's home for the entire time he or she was alive in 2018.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4272
Foster child.(p23)
rule
A foster child is any child placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4281
Kidnapped child.(p23)
rule
If your child is presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who isn't a family member, you may be able to take the child into account in determining your eligibility for head of household or qualifying widow(er) filing status, the child tax credit, the credit for other dependents, and the earned income credit (EIC). For details, see Pub. 501 (Pub. 596 for the EIC).
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4289
Married person.(p23)
rule
If the person is married and files a joint return, you can't claim that person as your dependent. However, if the person is married but doesn't file a joint return or files a joint return only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid, you may be able to claim him or her as a dependent. (See Pub. 501 for details and examples.) In that case, go to Step 2, question 3 (for a qualifying child) or Step 4, question 4 (for a qualifying relative).
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4303
Multiple support agreements.(p23)
rule
If no one person contributed over half of the support of your relative (or a person who lived with you all year as a member of your household) but you and another person(s) provided more than half of your relative's support, special rules may apply that would treat you as having provided over half of the support. For details, see Pub. 501.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4311
Permanently and totally disabled.(p23)
rule
A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2018, the person can't engage in any substantial gainful activity because of a physical or mental condition and a doctor has determined that this condition has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least a year or can be expected to lead to death.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink100058962
Public assistance payments.(p23)
rule
If you received payments under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program or other public assistance program and you used the money to support another person, see Pub. 501.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4320
Qualifying child of more than one person.(p23)
rule
Even if a child meets the conditions to be the qualifying child of more than one person, only one person can claim the child as a qualifying child for all of the following tax benefits, unless the special rule for Children of divorced or separated parents, described earlier, applies.
  1. Child tax credit and credit for other dependents (line 12a) and additional child tax credit (line 17b).
  2. Head of household filing status.
  3. Credit for child and dependent care expenses (Schedule 3, line 49).
  4. Exclusion for dependent care benefits (Form 2441, Part III).
  5. Earned income credit (line 17a).
No other person can take any of the five tax benefits just listed based on the qualifying child. If you and any other person can claim the child as a qualifying child, the following rules apply.

Example.(p24)

Your daughter meets the conditions to be a qualifying child for both you and your mother. Your daughter doesn't meet the conditions to be a qualifying child of any other person, including her other parent. Under the rules just described, you can claim your daughter as a qualifying child for all of the five tax benefits just listed for which you otherwise qualify. Your mother can't claim any of those five tax benefits based on your daughter. However, if your mother's AGI is higher than yours and you do not claim your daughter as a qualifying child, your daughter is the qualifying child of your mother.
For more details and examples, see Pub. 501.
If you will be claiming the child as a qualifying child, go to Step 2. Otherwise, stop; you can't claim any benefits based on this child.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4397
Social security number.(p24)
rule
You must enter each dependent's social security number (SSN). Be sure the name and SSN entered agree with the dependent's social security card. Otherwise, at the time we process your return, we may reduce or disallow any tax benefits (such as the child tax credit) based on that dependent. If the name or SSN on the dependent's social security card isn't correct or you need to get an SSN for your dependent, contact the Social Security Administration. See Social Security Number (SSN), earlier. If your dependent won't have a number by the date your return is due, see What if You Can't File on Time? earlier.
For the child tax credit, your child must have the required SSN. The required SSN is one that is valid for employment and that is issued by the Social Security Administration before the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions). If your child was a U.S. citizen when the child received the SSN, the SSN is valid for employment. If Not Valid for Employment is printed on your child’s social security card and your child’s immigration status has changed so that your child is now a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, ask the SSA for a new social security card without the legend. However, if Valid for Work Only With DHS Authorization is printed on your child’s social security card, your child has the required SSN only as long as the DHS authorization is valid.
If your dependent child was born and died in 2018 and you do not have an SSN for the child, enter Died in column (2) of the Dependents section and include a copy of the child's birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records. The document must show the child was born alive.
If you, or your spouse if filing jointly, didn't have an SSN (or ITIN) issued on or before the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions), you can't claim the child tax credit or the credit for other dependents on your original or an amended 2018 return.
If you apply for an ITIN on or before the due date of your 2018 return (including extensions) and the IRS issues you an ITIN as a result of the application, the IRS will consider your ITIN as issued on or before the due date of your return.
taxmap/instr/i1040gi-009.htm#en_us_publink24811vd0e4417
Student.(p24)
rule
A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of 2018 was enrolled as a full-time student at a school, or took a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school or a state, county, or local government agency. A school includes a technical, trade, or mechanical school. It doesn't include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the Internet.