You may be able to claim someone who lives with you as an exemption on your income taxes, provided you support this person. You can deduct $3,650 from your taxable income for each exemption that you claim in 2010. If you have three exemptions, you can deduct $10,950 from your taxable income. However, you cannot claim just anyone as an exemption; exemptions must meet certain Internal Revenue Service guidelines.
For you to claim someone as an exemption, she must be your qualifying child or a qualifying relative. Your children or stepchildren qualify under IRS rules. Brothers and sisters also qualify, as do any descendants of any of these relatives, such as grandchildren or nieces and nephews. Foster children also qualify, as long as they have lived with you for the full year. Other relatives may qualify as well under certain special circumstances.
For you to claim someone as a dependent, you must provide over half of his support. Support includes food and shelter, as well as clothing and medical care. Generally, this is not a problem for children living with you, unless they have high incomes -- as an entertainer would, for example. Anyone other than a qualifying child must earn less than $3,650 per year to qualify for you to claim this person as an exemption.
To claim someone as an exemption, she must not be married with a joint filing status. An example would be your daughter who lived with you for the year while her husband was stationed oversees. You may have provided most of her support, but since she files a joint return with her husband, you may not claim her as an exemption. A person also must not be able to be claimed by someone else in order for you to claim her as an exemption.
In cases of divorce, the person who has custody of the children generally claims them as exemptions, unless an agreement or court order states otherwise. If the parents have joint custody, the person with whom the children live for a majority of the year is allowed to claim them as an exemption. You also may claim a parent who lives on his own, so long as you provide the majority of his support. Any person that you claim must be a citizen or resident of the United States, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
Can a Single Person File for Head of Household Without a Dependent?
Single taxpayers must claim a dependent to file for head of household unless they qualify for a special exception.