How to Claim a Child Who Works on a Tax Return

By Jessica McElrath
Claim a Child Who Works on a Tax Return

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A parent can claim a child as a dependent on his tax return even if the child works. To claim an exemption for a working child, the child must qualify as a dependent. A dependent is a person, not including the spouse of the taxpayer, that the taxpayer can claim as an exemption. A dependent is a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. An exemption is an amount that the taxpayer can subtract from his taxable income.

Take the IRS' qualifying child test. A taxpayer can claim an exemption for a child who works and receive tax benefits if the child is a qualifying child. A qualifying child is a person that is the child, stepchild, foster child, sibling or stepsibling of the taxpayer; lives in the same principal residence as the taxpayer for at least half of the tax year; is either under age 19 or under age 24 if the dependent is a full-time student for five calendar months out of the year; and the dependent did not provide more than half of his own support.

Take the IRS' dependent taxpayer test. A qualifying child must qualify under the dependent taxpayer test. If the dependent child claims another person on his tax return, the dependent does not pass the test.

Take the IRS' joint return test. The dependent must not file a joint return for the same tax year he is claimed as a dependent. Filing a joint tax return with someone else disqualifies the child.

Take the IRS' citizen test. To claim the exemption for the dependent child, the child must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. resident alien, a U.S. national or a resident of Canada or Mexico. The rule excludes legally adopted children who are not U.S. citizens but lived with the taxpayer for the entire year or a child legally placed in a home for adoption.

Claim the qualifying child as a dependent on your tax return. A taxpayer can take an exemption for a qualifying child. As of 2010, the exemption for each child is $3,650. You will need the Social Security number of your dependent child.

File your child's tax return if necessary. A dependent must file an income tax return if his earned income exceeds $5,700. It is the responsibility of the child to file a tax return; however, the parent must file the return for the child if the child fails to do so. The parent may sign the tax return for the child, which gives the parent the right to communicate with the IRS about the information on the return.

About the Author

Jessica McElrath has been a freelance writer since 2000. McElrath is the author of "The Everything John F. Kennedy Book" and "The Everything Martin Luther King Jr. Book." McElrath has a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California at Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from Santa Clara University School of Law.