When Do I Stop Taking My Child as a Deduction?

Your pride and joy also serves as a tax deduction.

child image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com

When you lose your child as a tax deduction depends on the child's age, residence, school enrollment status, your level of support and the physical or mental condition of your child; an adult mentally or physically challenged child falls under different Internal Revenue Service regulations than an able-bodied adult child. Deductibility also depends on the type of tax deduction or credit you are seeking.

Qualifying Child

To claim a deduction as a dependent, your child or stepchild must be under age 19 as of the end of the tax year unless he is in school. If your child is a full-time student for a minimum of five months out of the year, he must be under age 24 at the tax year's end. Your child must live at your residence for over six months of the year to qualify for your deduction. If your child attends boarding school, goes to camp for the summer, or is away from home for medical reasons or certain other special circumstances, he still counts as living at your residence.


If your child provides more than half of her own support during the tax year, you can't claim her as a deduction. If you are not married to the child's other parent and the child lived with each of you for the same amount of time during the tax year, the person with the highest adjusted gross income typically takes the deduction for the child. (Who takes the deduction can be negotiated between the two parents.)

Disabled Children

No matter what his age, if your child is permanently and totally disabled you can claim him as a deduction if you are providing support.

Child Tax Credit

Each child under the age of 17 may earn you a tax credit of up to $1,000. This is in addition to the dependent child tax deduction. Tax credits mean a dollar per dollar reduction, so if you have two kids under age 17, you you owe the federal government that is $2,000 less if you meet the income qualification levels. As of 2012, for married couples filing jointly the limit is an adjusted gross income of $110,000. For single filers the limit is $75,000. Only children who are U.S. citizens qualify you for this credit.

Birth and Death

If you can claim a deduction for a child born any time during the tax year, even if she is born at 11:59 p.m. on December 31. If you suffer the loss of an age-eligible child during the year, you can still take a deduction for that year. The IRS does not require the six-month residency status in the case of newly born or deceased children.