Tax Advice for Claiming a Dependent Who Works

When your dependent enters the workforce for the first time, you may find yourself wondering how their employment status affects your tax situation. Here are answers to common tax questions about claiming dependents who work.

Can I claim my child as a dependent if they have a job?

Your child can still be claimed as your dependent if they meet these IRS requirements:

  • They’re related to you by blood, adoption, or you foster them
  • They’re under age 19 (or a full-time student under 24)  
  • They rely on you for more than half of their financial support
  • They live with you for more than half of the year (with some exceptions)
  • They’re a US citizen or resident alien, and they have a Social Security number at the time you file your return
  • They’re not filing a joint tax return (if your dependent is married)

As long as your child still relies on your for financial support, their employment status won’t affect your ability to claim them as dependent.  

Do you share custody of the child? Make sure you know which parent will claim them as a dependent.

Can I claim my child as a dependent if they are over 18?

Your child can qualify as a dependent up to age 24 if they are enrolled full-time as a student and meet all the other eligibility requirements (listed above).

Can I get the Child Tax Credit if my dependent has a job/earns income?

Your child must meet all the eligibility requirements for you to claim the Child Tax Credit, which may vary from year to year. But as long as you are still supporting them financially, your dependent’s work status most likely won’t impact their eligibility.

Should my dependent file their own return?

Depending on how much your child earns, they may not be required to file a federal income tax return. But if they’re having taxes withheld from their paycheck by their employer, they could be entitled to a tax refund–and the only way to get a refund is to file an income tax return.

In this case, they will need to file a return using their own name and Social Security number/ITIN.

Can I claim my child as a dependent if they file a tax return?

Your child can still qualify as a dependent if they file their own taxes. They will need to indicate that someone else claims them as a dependent on their return.