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George Saenz, the Bankrate.com Tax Talk columnist College student a dependent

Dear Tax Talk,
My 18-year-old daughter is now working part time while in college. She lives at home, and made less than $2,000 in 2006. I know we must submit a tax return in her name, but does that mean that she can no longer be a deductible dependent on my return? My husband is disabled and I am the only one working with a family of four. If I can't claim her, it will really affect my outcome. Thanks, and God bless for your help. I look forward to hearing from you.
-- Luann

Dear Luann,
Dependency exemptions are always some of the more complex decisions when it comes to doing your taxes.

The most important thing to remember when claiming your child is that no matter what she earns, she can still be your dependent if she is younger than 24 years old as long as she is a student and you provide more than half of her support.

To qualify as a student, your child must be, during some part of each of any five calendar months of the year, one of two things.

Qualifications for student:
1. A full-time student at a school that has a regular teaching staff, course of study and a regularly enrolled student body at the school.
2. Or a student taking a full-time, on-farm training course given by a school described in (1), or by a state, county or local government agency.

A full-time student is a student who is enrolled for the number of hours or courses the school considers to be full-time attendance. At most schools anything more than six hours per semester is considered full-time attendance.

If your child only earned $2,000, chances are that you provided more than half of her support. In 2006 a dependent child with only earned income of less than $5,150 is not required to file a return. However, if your daughter had income taxes withheld, she should file to request a refund.

To ask a question on Tax Talk, go to the "Ask the Experts" page and select "taxes" as the topic.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Feb. 8, 2007
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