Taxpayers can claim a relative as a "dependent" when the relative depends on the taxpayer for their financial survival. The Internal Revenue Service, or IRS, has several rules on claiming dependents.
A taxpayer can claim her own child or relative (known as a "qualifying child") under the age of 19 (24 if the dependent is a full-time student) as a dependent. A taxpayer also may claim a relative (known as a "qualifying relative"), such as a parent or grandparent, as a dependent.
A qualifying child must rely on the taxpayer for at least half of their financial support. A qualifying relative cannot make more than $3,650 per year and must depend on the taxpayer for a minimum of half of their financial support, as of 2009.
A qualifying child must live with the taxpayer for a minimum of six months per year. Qualifying relatives need not live with the taxpayer.