Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent?

These are the limits for claiming a child as a dependent for deductions and possible tax refunds from the IRS and other tax agencies in the United States.


Claiming a child as a dependent on your tax return can provide significant financial benefits, including eligibility for various tax credits and deductions.

However, there are specific rules and age limits that determine whether you can claim your child as a dependent. This article will explore these rules and provide a comprehensive understanding of the age limits for claiming a child as a dependent in the U.S.

Qualifying Child Test

To claim a child as a dependent, the child must meet the criteria of a “qualifying child”. The qualifying child test includes several requirements, one of which is the age limit. According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a child must be younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly) and meet one of the following age criteria:

  • Under age 19 at the end of the tax year.
  • Under age 24 at the end of the tax year if the child is a full-time student.
  • Any age if the child is permanently and totally disabled.

A full-time student is defined as a child who is enrolled in school full-time for at least five months of the year. This can include elementary, secondary, and post-secondary education. The age limit ensures that parents can claim their children as dependents while they are still pursuing their education or if they are unable to support themselves due to a disability.

Qualifying Relative Test

If a child does not meet the qualifying child criteria, they may still be claimed as a dependent under the “qualifying relative” test. The qualifying relative test does not have an age limit, but the child must meet other requirements:

  • The child must not be a qualifying child of another taxpayer.
  • The child must live with you all year as a member of your household or be related to you in specific ways.
  • The child’s gross income must be less than $4,700 for the tax year.
  • You must provide more than half of the child’s total support for the year.

The qualifying relative test allows parents to claim older children or other relatives who rely on them for financial support, provided they meet the income and support requirements.

Additional considerations

In addition to the age and relationship criteria, there are other factors to consider when claiming a child as a dependent. The child must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. The child must also have a valid Social Security Number or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to be claimed as a dependent.

It’s important to note that a child cannot be claimed as a dependent on more than one tax return. In cases of divorced or separated parents, the custodial parent (the parent with whom the child lived for the greater part of the year) generally has the right to claim the child as a dependent. However, the non-custodial parent may claim the child if the custodial parent signs a written declaration (IRS Form 8332) releasing the claim to the exemption.

In addition to meeting the qualifying child or qualifying relative test, you can claim that person as a dependent only if these three tests are met:

  • Dependent taxpayer test
  • Citizen or resident test
  • Joint return test


In summary, the age limit for claiming a child as a dependent in the U.S. depends on whether the child meets the qualifying child or qualifying relative criteria.

For a qualifying child, the age limit is under 19 or under 24 if a full-time student, with no age limit for children who are permanently and totally disabled. For a qualifying relative, there is no age limit, but other income and support requirements must be met. Understanding these rules can help you maximize your tax benefits and ensure compliance with IRS regulations.

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