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Individual Income Tax Guide

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Page 4: Form 1040, Line 6c

Line 6c – Dependents

Dependents and Qualifying Child for Child Tax Credit: To determine if a person qualifies as your dependent, qualifies you to take the child tax credit, or both, complete the Dependent and Qualifying Child for Child Tax Credit worksheet  If you have more than four dependents, check the box to the left of line 6c and include a statement showing the information required in columns (1) through (4). The following definitions and special rules apply when determining whether a person is a dependent or qualifying child:

Adopted child: An adopted child, which includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption, is always treated as your own child.  

Adoption taxpayer identification numbers (ATINs): If you have a dependent who was placed with you for legal adoption and you do not know his or her SSN, you must get an ATIN for the dependent from the IRS by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions. If the dependent is not a U.S. citizen or resident alien, apply for an ITIN instead, by filing Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.

Children of divorced or separated parents: A child will be treated as the qualifying child or qualifying relative of his or her noncustodial parent (see below) for 2016 if:

If conditions (1) through (4) apply, only the noncustodial parent can claim the child for purposes of the dependency exemption (line 6c) and the child tax credits (lines 52 and 67). However, this special rule does not apply to 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. See Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for details.

Custodial and noncustodial parents: The custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater number of nights in 2016. The noncustodial parent is the other parent. If the child stayed with each parent for an equal number of nights, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income is treated as the custodial parent. See page 14 of Publication 501 for an exception for a parent who works at night, rules for a child who is emancipated under state law, and other details.

Post-1984 and pre-2009 decree or agreement: The decree or agreement must state the following:

The noncustodial parent must include the following pages from the decree or agreement:

You must include this information even if you included it with your return in an earlier year.

Post-2008 decree or agreement: If the divorce decree or separation agreement went into effect after 2008, the noncustodial parent cannot include pages from the decree or agreement instead of Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. 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 an exemption for a child, and the noncustodial parent must include a copy of the form or statement 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.

Release of exemption revoked: A custodial parent who has revoked his or her previous release of a claim to exemption for a child must include a copy of the revocation with his or her return. For details, see Form 8332.

Exception to citizen test: 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 of the Dependent and Qualifying Child for Child Tax Credit worksheet; Step 3, question 2 of the worksheet; and Step 4, question 2 of the worksheet.

Exception to gross income test: 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 page 20 of Publication 501.

Temporary Absences: The time of 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 a person meets all other requirements to be your qualifying child but was born or died in 2016, he or she is considered to have lived with you for more than half of the year if your home was this person's home for more than half the time he or she was alive in 2016.

A ny other person is considered to have lived with you for all of 2016 if the person was born or died during the year and your home was his or her home for the entire time he or she was alive during the year.

Foster child: 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.

Kidnapped child: If law enforcement authorities presume your child to have been kidnapped by a person who is not a family member, you may be able to take the child into account in determining your eligibility for:

For details, see pages 14 and 18 of Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information (page 11 of Publication 596, Earned Income Credit (EIC), for the EIC).

Married person: If the person is married and files a joint return, you cannot claim that person as your dependent.  However, if the person is married but does not 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 the person as a dependent. (See pages 13 and 15 of Publication 501 for details and examples.) Go to the Dependent and Qualifying Child for Child Tax Credit worksheet Step 2, question 3 (for a qualifying child) or Step 4, question 4 (for a qualifying relative).

Multiple support agreements: 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 page 21 of Publication 501.

Permanently and totally disabled: A person is permanently and totally disabled if, at any time in 2016:

Qualifying child of more than one person: 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 the following tax benefits, unless the special rule for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents, described earlier, applies.

No other person can take any of the six tax benefits listed above unless he or she has a different qualifying child. If you and any other person can claim the child as a qualifying child, the following rules apply:

Example: Your daughter meets the conditions to be a qualifying child for both you and your mother. Your daughter does not 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 six tax benefits just listed for which you otherwise qualify. Your mother cannot claim any of those six tax benefits unless she has a different qualifying child. 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 page 17 of Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

If you will be claiming the child as a qualifying child, go to Dependent and Qualifying Child for Child Tax Credit worksheet, Step 2. Otherwise, stop; you cannot claim any benefits with respect to this child.

Social security number: 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 the IRS may disallow the exemption you claimed for the dependent and reduce or disallow any other tax benefits (such as the child tax credit) you claimed with respect to that dependent. If the name or SSN on the dependent's social security card is not correct or you need to get an SSN for your dependent, contact the Social Security Administration. If your dependent will not have a number by the date your return is due, you can get an extension of time to file your return by filing Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return .

If your dependent child was born and died in 2016 and you do not have an SSN for the child, enter “Died” in column (2) and include a copy of the child's birth certificate, death certificate, or hospital records. The document must show the child was born alive.

Student: A student is a child who during any part of 5 calendar months of the year

A school includes a technical, trade, or mechanical school. It does not include an on-the-job training course, correspondence school, or school offering courses only through the internet.

Chapter 1 – Filing Status and Exemptions