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What does it mean to file taxes as a "dependent?"

fizixfizix Posts: 1,813Registered User Senior Member
edited April 2007 in College Life
So I'm going to college next year, and my parents are still claiming me as a "dependent" on tax forms. Is this normal/advisable for college kids? I know filing me as a dependent would make my parents pay less taxes, but what other legal effects does it have? Would I retain control of my financial accounts? Do I get to file my own taxes?

Also, are they allowed to *not* file me as a dependent if I'm going to college at age 16?

Oh yeah, and I just discovered they're claiming my 25-year-old grad student sister as a dependent too. She probably earns about $20,000 a year. Is there an age limit past which you're not allowed to do that?
Post edited by fizix on

Replies to: What does it mean to file taxes as a "dependent?"

  • ChedvaChedva Posts: 19,426Super Moderator Senior Member
    For tax purposes, you can claim any relative as a "dependent" if you pay more than 50% of their upkeep. So yes, most college students are claimed as dependents for tax purposes. You can still retain control of your accounts, and you can still file your own taxes if you have income in your own name (i.e., investments that you own, wages that you earn from a job). In fact, if you're over a certain income level you are required to file your own taxes.

    Your parents can legitimately claim your sister as a dependent if they pay more than 50% of her support, and my guess is that they do. There is no age limit; some people can claim their elderly parents as dependents.
  • frostburg2010frostburg2010 Posts: 648Registered User Member
    Yep, I'm 19, in college, and my parents still claim me. It works in your favor, trust me. They still claim my 22 year old sis too, even though she's going to be off in grad school in August. Chedva is right, this doesn't stop you from filing your own taxes. I'm looking forward to going home to where my state and federal refunds are currently waiting for me :).
  • kwl718kwl718 Posts: 33Registered User New Member
    If you are a dependent on your parents' health insurance, you MUST remain a tax dependent or you'll get booted off. Insurance companies are auditing this with increasing frequency. Health insurance costs a fortune and NOT having it can cost even more. The student health insurance offered by colleges is not very comprehensive, you don't want to rely on that if you have an alternative.

    You can still file a tax return if you are someone else's dependent...they just get your personal exemption rather than you. If you income is low enough you'll still get any income taxes withheld back. We claimed my stepson last year and he still got all the federal tax withheld from his paychecks back because he had no tax liability, even without his personal exemption.

    You can control your own bank accounts when you are 18...as long as it's not some kind of trust account setup by someone else that distributes the principal later than that.
  • futurenyustudentfuturenyustudent Posts: 5,366Registered User Senior Member
    That means you can't claim exemption for yourself.
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