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What is a ‘Qualifying Relative’ for US Tax Purposes: IRC 152

Wading through the convolution required to identify specifically who qualifies as a relative for income tax reporting purposes oftentimes can be difficult, not because the actual tax code is difficult to understand in these regards or even subject to much interpretation. No, it is difficult because the subject matter is best addressed with discretion gained only through experience, particularly in mixed company. In fact I charge hazard pay for the pleasure as the topic usually tends to incite cockles.

Today a husband/wife came in and the husband asked point blank whether “that mouth being feed across the table every night is a qualifying relative” for federal tax purposes. After picking myself up off the floor I proceed to explain as gracefully as possible that a qualifying relative is an individual who meets all of the following requirements:

  1. Is a specified relative of the taxpayer or if unrelated has the same principal residence of the taxpayer for the entire tax year. [§152(f)(3)];
  2. Whose gross income is less than the personal exemption amount for 2013 of $3,900. [§152(d)(4)];
  3. Whether the taxpayer provided over one-half the support for the tax year. [§Reg. 1.152-1(a)(2)];
  4. Whether the child in question could potentially be a qualifying child of any other taxpayer for the year.