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Can someone who is not related to my child claim them as a dependent on their taxes?

Asked by: Jesica Hogan 589 views YA Discussion

We recently got custody of our 14 year old cousin/nephew who was living with my husband’s mother. She was not taking very good care of him and the courts signed him over to us. We got custody of him in August and my mother in law’s boyfriend, who is not even related to him and pays no bills in her house told me he was going to claim him on his taxes. Can he do this? I know you can claim someone as a dependent if you’ve supported them more than 6 months out of the year but, can you claim them if you aren’t related to them? Do I have the right to say whether or not he can or can’t?
He did not live with me officially until August. We received legal custody of him August 3. However he stayed with us in the month of July. Several people, including DFACS and his counselor can verify that.
He is my husband’s blood cousin. The mother has never had custody of him, he has been a ward of the state since he was 15 months old. My mother in law cannot claim him because she is disabled and received SSI and does not work, therefor she has her boyfriend file him every year, which he has done until now. I can claim him because I have done it before. My question was not whether or not I can claim him, that is not up for discussion. My question was Do I have the right to say whether that non-relative can claim him being as I have custody of him now. I provided more than 1/2 support being as the low life boyfriend didn’t pay any bills and never bought him anything. As far as support, the state has provided for him with FOODSTAMPS and TANF. In other words, my mother in law has received a check for him and has never used the check to take care of him, hence the fact he was removed from her custody because of this.

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4 Answers



  1. tro on Sep 20, 2011 Reply

    no
    you are somewhat what right about the support but in this case, an unrelated person, does not apply with the 6 months
    there is no way he is entitled to claim the child, you are not either since he didn’t live with you 6 months

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  2. Cathi K on Sep 20, 2011 Reply

    They would have to live with him all year and provide more than 50% of his support.

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  3. the tax lady on Sep 20, 2011 Reply

    cousin/nephew is not clear enough. Exactly HOW is this child related to you or your husband?

    For 2010, 5-6 months isn’t good enough. (You need proof the child was living with you BEFORE July.) 2011 is possible. For a child who is not your child, grandchild or child of a blood brother or sister, the child has to live with you all year. Such a child gets you the exemption only.

    There is also a form 2220, but I suspect you won’t get everyone who is eligible to sign off.

    As for the MIL’s boyfriend, he is NOT eligible. In order to claim a child who is not related to you, the child must live with you all year. Your taking custody means he doesn’t meet the test. If he tries to claim the child, the IRS will audit him.

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  4. StephenWeinstein on Sep 20, 2011 Reply

    Under certain circumstances, a person can claim an unrelated person if they lived together for the entire year, even though they are not related. However, a person is not allowed to claim a person who is not related to him or her AND did not live with him all year. Therefore, your mother-in-law’s boyfriend would not be allowed to claim him.

    By the way, what you “know” is wrong. The number of months of support makes no difference. The dollar amount of support is what matters. If one person supports him for 1 day, but that support is $ 20,000, and another person supports him for 364 days, but that support is only $ 19,999.99, then the first person is the one who provided over 1/2 the support, because it was over 1/2 of the money, which is what counts, not the number of months.

    The 6 month rule has do with living with a person for 6 months, not supporting a person for 6 months.

    You have no right to whether anyone can claim anyone. The only situation in which any person has the right to say whether or not a person can claim another person is when a child’s parent who lived with the child over half the year says that the other child’s other parent can claim the child.

    Interestingly, none of this has anything to do with the reason why you cannot claim the child.

    The reason that you cannot claim the child is that your mother-in-law lived with him over half the year, and is related to him, so she is the person who can claim him, which means you can’t.

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