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Who Is a Qualifying Child for Tax Purposes?

A qualifying child allows you to claim several tax breaks not available to taxpayers without children, such as the exemption for a dependent, the Child Tax Credit, the Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the earned income credit.

In order for a child to be your qualifying child, he or she must

  • Be your child or stepchild (by either blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or stepsibling, or a descendant of one of these.
  • Share the same principal residence with you for more than half of the year (except in the case of certain extenuating circumstances, such as divorced or separated parents, temporary absences, etc.).
  • Be under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year or be under 24 and a full-time student.
  • Must not have provided more than half of their own support over the course of the tax year.


  • If more than one taxpayer claims the same child, the child will be the qualifying child of the taxpayer who is his or her parent, and if both are parents, then the one with whom the child lived for the longest time over the course of the tax year.