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Tax Law (Questions About Taxes)/College Student as a Dependent


QUESTION: Dear John,
I have learned a great deal about this subject by reading your previous answers. I would like to verify my understanding and ask one new question.
My situation: My daughter, a full-time college student,has been living with me 2 years going on to 3 since she has been been attending college. She has applied for and received education loans to attend and I have definitely been paying for all of her housing, including utilities and a good portion of the food bill during this time.
I think I understand that: I can declare her a dependent as long as she does NOT declare herself. Since I am in a higher tax bracket [about 60K] and she has earned around 12K working part-time, I will get more money back and she will file to get refund that she may be due. It will raise her taxes, but she will pay much less than I. When I get my return I can give her the difference. I hope I'm correct.
The NEW question: What do I do about the last 2 years when I could have claimed her and she could have denied claiming herself? Can we go back and redo these returns without a massive amount of confusion? Is it time to hand the mess over to a professional?
Thank you so much for your time!


Thanks for your question.

Your understanding is correct.  Your daughter must be under age 24 however.

You can file a 1040X, amended return for each of those two years.  It's not too hard, all you would do would be for you to claim an additional dependent and recalculate your taxes  based on the new taxable income and for her to do the same.  The form is a little confusing at first, but if you have done your own taxes, you should catch on quickly.

Send each amended return in separately, it will confuse matters if you combine them in one envelope.  You can amend a return for up to 3 years from the due date.

Hope this helps.

John Stancil, CPA

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hello John-
I'm back again-new tax year-new circumstances. Please lend me some more of your sage advice.

My daughter is 26 and was living with me last year. She had a baby in April 2013. Worked and earned about $4700.

Can I consider her my dependent? My tax program says I cannot unless she is disabled or a full time college student. I essentially supported both her and our little dependant. What do you think?

Thank you,


Thanks for your question. It's not what I think, but what the law says.

Since she is not under age 23 she does not qualify as a qualifying child.  However, she may qualify as a qualifying relative. As your daughter, she does not have to meet the member of household test.  The two big issues are the support test and the gross income test.

The support test requires that you provide over half her support for the entire year.  The gross income test states that her gross income must be under $3,900.  If you meet both of these you can claim her as a dependent.

If she (or the child's father) are not taking the dependency exemption for the child, he/she would meet the qualifying child criteria for you to take the exemption.  In this case, the child must have lived with you the entire year (from birth) and you must have provided over half the support.

If you can take either one as a dependent (and you are filing single otherwise) you would qualify to file as head of household.

Hope this helps.

John Stancil, CPA

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John Stancil, CPA


I can answer questions on personal income taxes, partnerships, and some corporate income taxes. I can deal with some state tax questions. Limited gift and estate tax questions. I am also familiar with ministerial and church tax reporting issues. I am Professor Emeritus at Florida Southern College. Sales taxes and property taxes are state and local issues so I am not likely be be able to give you an in depth answer on those types of taxes. I have maintained a CPA practice, specializing in tax, for over 35 years. I am a member of the National Association of Tax Professionals, The Florida Insititute of CPA's, The NCPE Fellowship. In addition I am a Certified Mentor for SCORE. Visit my website at I also offer seminars and consultations to churches and clergy on their tax issues at Also visit my blog, I am listed on Tax Connections at Prepare and file your own taxes at


I hold a doctorate in Accounting, and am a CPA. My certifications of CIA, CFM, and CMA are inactive. I passed all certification examinations on the first attempt, and received honorable mention for my scores on the CIA exam. I have operated a CPA firm for over 37 years and have taught accounting and tax at the college level for over 35 years.

FICPA, NATP, NCPE Fellowship, Lakeland Business Leaders

The CPA Journal, Florida CPA Today, Green Consumer, Green Business, Global Sustainability as a Business Imperative, Palmetto Review, NATP TaxPro Quarterly, Mustang Journal of Finance and Accounting.

DBA University of Memphis MBA University of Georgia BS in Accounting Mars Hill University

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