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Can I Still Claim My Child As A Dependent If They Worked?


In the realm of tax regulations, the interplay between dependency status and employment can be intricate. If your child has earned income, you might wonder whether you can still claim them as a dependent on your tax return. This comprehensive guide aims to furnish you with a detailed understanding of the criteria and considerations involved in claiming your working child as a dependent.

Understanding Dependency Status

To begin with, it’s vital to comprehend the criteria that determine whether an individual can be claimed as a dependent for tax purposes. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) outlines specific tests related to relationships, age, residency, and support to ascertain dependency status.

Relationship Test

The relationship test stipulates that a dependent must be your child, stepchild, foster child, sibling, half-sibling, or a descendant of any of these individuals. Additionally, the dependent can also be any other person who lives with you as a member of your household for the entire year.

Age Test

For the age test, the dependent must be either under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year or under the age of 24 if they are a full-time student for at least five months of the year. There is no age limit for a dependent who is permanently and totally disabled.

Residency Test

Under the residency test, the dependent must have lived with you for more than half of the year. Temporary absences due to education, illness, business, vacation, or military service are considered as time lived at home.

Support Test

The support test states that the dependent cannot have provided more than half of their own support during the tax year.

Impact of Child’s Employment

Once you have verified that your child meets the criteria for being claimed as a dependent, it’s essential to consider the implications of their employment status.

Income Thresholds

If your child’s income exceeds a certain threshold, it might impact their dependency status. As of the current tax regulations, the threshold for earned income is subject to change, so it’s crucial to refer to the most recent IRS guidelines.

Rules for Dependent’s Income

Previously, if a working child’s income exceeded a specific amount, they would not qualify as a dependent. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removed the requirement that the dependent’s income must be less than the personal exemption amount. This change broadened the scope for claiming dependents who have earned income.

Exceptions for Certain Types of Income

Certain types of income, such as interest, dividends, and capital gains, do not impact a child’s status as a dependent unless the child provides more than half of their own support from such income.

Steps to Determine Dependent Status

To definitively ascertain whether you can still claim your child as a dependent if they have worked, consider the following steps:

Step 1: Verify Relationship and Age

Ensure that your child meets the relationship and age criteria stipulated by the IRS.

Step 2: Residency Confirmation

Confirm that your child has lived with you for more than half of the year, factoring in temporary absences.

Step 3: Assess Support

Evaluate whether you have provided more than half of your child’s support during the tax year.

Step 4: Review Income

Review your child’s earned income to determine whether it falls within the allowable threshold and the impact it might have on their dependency status.

Step 5: Consult IRS Guidelines

Always refer to the latest IRS guidelines and seek professional tax advice if needed.


In conclusion, the employment of a child does not automatically disqualify them from being claimed as a dependent. The interplay between your child’s income, the dependency tests, and specific IRS regulations plays a crucial role in determining their eligibility. By understanding the criteria and considering the impact of your child’s employment, you can navigate the complexities of claiming your working child as a dependent with confidence. Always stay informed about the latest tax laws and guidelines to ensure compliance and optimize your tax benefits.