can I claim children whom are unrelated to me?
There are a number of situations when you can claim a
child for a
tax exemption even though he or she is not actually related to you.
Beginning in 2005, for income tax
purposes the child is treated as your child in the following situations:
A person that meets any of the above definitions is also considered a
qualifying child for purposes of the earned income tax credit. There
are other requirements to claim tax benefits normally associated
with a 'child' meeting the above definitions. For example, one of
the actual parents may be entitled to the tax benefits.
- The child is under age seventeen (or twenty-four if a full
student) at year's end.
- Legally adopted children are
treated as your own child and qualify for an exemption.
- A child placed with you for adoption by an
authorized agency is treated as your own child; the child does not have
to live with you for the entire year.
- A child placed with you by an authorized agency or
by court order is treated as your own child; if the placement is
temporary, however, a different rule applies. If the child is
temporarily placed in your home by a foster care agency and the care of
the child remains under the supervision of the agency, the child does
not qualify as a dependent. Expenses you incur in caring for the person
(net of reimbursements) can be deducted as a charitable contribution,
Rev.Rul 77-280, 1977-2 C.B. 14.
Claiming other persons -- If the particular individual does
not fit within one of the above
categories, the 'child' may still qualify you for a tax exemption, but
the rules are stricter. Each of the following requirements must
- The 'child' must have a specified relationship to
you (e.g. brother, cousin, nephew, parent, child), or he or she must
have lived with you the entire year as a member of your
household. If the relationship violates local law, it may not
- For year 2009, the 'child' must have gross income of
less than $3,650.
- You must have provided over 50% or his or her
support (there are exceptions for separated parents
support agreements involving a group of persons).
- No one else may claim the ‘child’ as a 'qualifying
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