Amount of Tax Credit for Adult Dependents

by Angela M. Wheeland

    Although most dependent tax credits are claimed by parents who care for a child, some situations enable you to claim an adult as a dependent. There are several qualification requirements that the Internal Revenue Service imposes, but if the dependent qualifies, claiming an adult dependent on your taxes can reduce your tax bill significantly.

    Typically, a qualifying dependent is your child who is under 19 or under 24 and a full-time student, but the rules to claim an adult dependent are different. To claim an adult dependent who is not your child, the dependent must be a relative or someone who acts as a member of your household and lives in your house for the entire year. You must provide at least half the dependent's support, and the dependent cannot earn more than $3,900 during the 2013 tax year. The adult dependent must also be U.S. citizen or resident alien. The IRS allows you to claim a relative who does not live with you as long as you provide at least half of the relative's support. For example, if you provide over half of the support for your mother who lives in a nursing home, you can still claim the exemption.

    When you claim an exemption for a dependent, the amount you receive reduces your taxable income. As of 2013, you receive $3,900 for each dependent you claim on your taxes. Although the exemption is not a tax credit, it reduces your tax bill.

    Although the earned income credit is typically awarded to taxpayers who support children under the age of 19, the credit is extended to those supporting some adult dependents. To qualify for the earned income credit, you must meet certain income requirements and your dependent must be a relative who is under 19 or under 24 and a full-time student. Adult dependents who are not your relative do not qualify. The earned income credit is a tax credit that reduces the tax you owe the IRS dollar for dollar. If the amount of your earned income credit is more than the tax you owe the IRS, you will receive the remainder as a tax refund.

    The IRS offers two education credits -- the American Opportunity and the Lifetime Learning credit. The American Opportunity credit is a tax credit of up to $2,500 for qualifying education expenses paid for a dependent. The Lifetime Learning credit is a tax credit of up to $2,000. If your adult child or relative qualifies as a dependent and you pay qualifying education expenses for the dependent to attend college, you might qualify for one of the education credits.

    The rules to claim a dependent who is disabled differ from a typical adult dependent. You can claim an adult who is disabled as long as the person lives in your home for at least half the year. There are no age requirements for claiming tax credits for a dependent who is disabled. In addition, if your dependent is disabled, you can claim dependent care expenses, which help cover the cost of care so you can work or look for work. The amount you will receive for the dependent care credits is based on your adjusted gross income and the amount paid. If you are single, a full-time student and do not work, you can claim the dependent care credit, but the most you can claim is $250 per month or $500 for two or more dependents.

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    About the Author

    Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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