How to Claim a Foster Child as a Dependent

Claim a Foster Child as a Dependent

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lets you claim a foster child as a dependent if you can prove that the child was officially placed under your supervision by a governing authority, such as a court. To claim a foster child as a dependent, you must first satisfy IRS requirements.

Step 1

Make sure your foster child qualifies under IRS codes and that you can prove your relationship with him. If he is eligible, he can be listed as a dependent, enabling you to claim various tax benefits, such as head of household filing status. The child also qualifies as an exemption for a dependent.

Step 2

Establish proof of residence. The foster child must have the same address as you for more than 6 months of the year you are claiming. The IRS will give you leeway in this area under certain conditions, such as divorce or separation.

Step 3

Adhere to the age requirements set forth by the IRS to claim foster children. A child has to be 19 or younger for a taxpayer to get an exemption for a given year. In some cases the age limit is lifted. For example, if the child is enrolled in a school for a certain period during the year, the age limit rises to 24 years. There is no age limit for children who are totally and permanently disabled.

Step 4

Show qualifying financial support for the foster child. If a foster child earns half of her own support for the tax year, you cannot claim the child. The child is not eligible if she files a joint return for the year, unless the return was filed purely to claim a refund.


If you are planning to adopt a child and have not received the child's social security number, register for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number so that you can request an exemption on your taxes and list the child as a dependent.


If you are filing a joint return and someone else can claim your significant other as a dependent, you cannot claim any dependents on your current return for that year.

Things You'll Need

  • Proof of qualifying foster child

  • Proof of residence