Adult daughter as a dependent on income tax return?

So, Kayla is 19 years old, living at home, and in September she started her first actual money-earning job, working part-time at Disneyland. Thus, she’ll be filing her first income tax return come February, when she gets her W-2.

I presume that the 1040EZ instructions will provide her with sufficient guidance to successfully navigate the process for somebody who can be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return, and she’ll get all $160 back.

I’m a little less sanguine about what I should expect to encounter, when I claim as a dependent a person who is also filing a return on her own behalf. Any Dopers around who know how this sort of thing works?

TIA for any assistance y’all can render. :slight_smile:

If it makes any difference, I am married, filing jointly on a 1040A.

Since she in not under age 19, was she a full time student for at least 5 months during 2015?

Will her gross income for all of 2015 be under $4000?

If you can’t answer yes to at least one of these questions, you can’t claim her as a dependent. Even if you can answer yes, there are other qualifications, but these are probably going to be your main hurdles to overcome.

Unless your daughter has enough investment income to trigger the kiddie tax, your Form 1040A will look just like it did in all previous years when she didn’t file her own return. There’s nothing special you have to do just because she filed her own income tax return. As long as she still qualifies to be your dependent, there’s nothing different you need to do.

I can answer yes to both of them.

Since this involves legal advice, let’s move it to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

If I’m not mistaken, she would not be required to file a return if her only income is earned income and it did not exceed $6,300. If she had interest income, the threshold for filing a return is more complicated.

Disclaimer: I am not a tax lawyer, I am not your lawyer. I’m just spitballing, and you shouldn’t rely on me.

But she may want to file, as she may not owe any or very little tax based upon her income level, and she may be entitled to a refund.

Yep. Without filing, that $160 is just gone.

I’ve been in a similar situation with an adult child. In our case it was far more cost-effective to claim her as a dependent rather that her filing separately. We could not claim her as a dependent if she also filed a tax return. I figured out the taxes both ways and found that our tax saving was much more than what she’d paid in income taxes, so it was worth it to me to just give her the amount she would have gotten back, and to continue claiming her as a dependent.

My dad did what **MLS **describes, back when I was in college.

There is a rule that you cannot claim someone as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse. (Exception: If the only reason for filing the return was to claim a refund of all taxes paid.)

Otherwise, whether or not the dependent files a return on their own has absolutely no bearing on whether you can claim them as a dependent. Of course, I am assuming that the reason for not filing wasn’t to cover up income that may have been earned by the dependent. Please refer to Table 5 in Publication 501 (pdf). Other than the joint return rule, you will notice that filing or not filing a return is not one of the criteria for determining if someone is a dependent.

One person is eligible as one dependent. If she files and claims herself to get her $160 back you cannot claim her too.

She should have filed her W-4 to have no income taxes withheld and they wouldn’t have kept the $160. As it is now she is available as one dependent on one tax return. Yours or hers, but not both.

The OP is not saying that they are both claiming her as a dependent. The daughter is getting the $160 back without claiming her own exemption, because of the small amount of income she has.

Two problems:

The OP went to a lot of trouble to explain that his daughter will be following the instructions for someone who can be claimed as a dependent by another person. And, yes, it is possible to file a return and get a refund without claiming your own exemption.

Second: Either kaylasdad99 is eligible to claim his daughter as a dependent or he is not. It is a simple binary question. If he IS eligible, then the daughter is NOT eligible to claim her own exemption. The question on the return is not “Did someone claim you as a dependent?” it is “If someone **can **claim you (or your spouse if a joint return) as a dependent…” If someone CAN claim you as a dependent, regardless of whether they actually did so, you cannot claim your own exemption.

And many people are misled by the fact the WHEN YOU EFILE a return, if the dependent has already filed a return claiming themselves then your EFILED return will be rejected. People interpret this as meaning that the first person to file gets the exemption. This is not true. This just means that if you are genuinely entitled to claim the exemption, you must file on paper, not efile. The IRS will later contact both parties to determine who is eligible to claim the exemption.

Wait, does this mean we can’t both e-file? That would suck.

No it does not. You may both efile as long as you only one of you claim her exemption.

Only one of you are allowed to claim her exemption. On Form 1040-EZ there is a box she should check that says “Someone else can claim me as a dependent.” If she checks that box, she will not be claiming her own exemption.

What I was hoping to explain is that if both of you claim her exemption (which is improper), the second return will be rejected if it is efiled. If only one of the returns claims her exemption, they will both be accepted, regardless of which order they are filed in.

In other words, if she checks that box that says “Someone else can claim me as a dependent” on her return and you then go ahead and claim her as a dependent on your return, you may both efile (in any order) and everything will be alright.