What is a qualifying relative?
A “qualifying relative” is one of the two types of dependants you can claim an exemption for (the other being a “qualifying child”). You cannot claim your spouse as a qualifying relative, and you cannot claim a child as a qualifying relative if they meet the requirements of being a qualifying child (either for you or for anyone else). There are several requirements which must be met in order for you to be entitled to claim an exemption for someone as a qualifying relative:
1. The person must be: (i) your child or a descendent of your child (e.g., a grandchild); (ii) a sibling (including half-siblings and step-siblings) or a descendent of your sibling (e.g., a niece or nephew); (iii) a parent or an ancestor of your parent (e.g., a grandparent); (iv) an in-law family member (including a son- or daughter-in-law, a mother- or father-in-law and a brother- or sister-in-law); (v) an aunt or uncle, if they are related by blood; or (vi) any other individual, except for a spouse, who is a member of your household and has the same principal residence as you for the tax year.
2. The person must have a gross income for the calendar year which is less than the deduction amount you get for a dependent (which is $3,300 for the 2006 tax year).
3. The person must be someone you support and this generally requires that you provided that person with more than half of his or her support for the calendar year. If two or more people provide support for that individual, whoever provides more than fifty percent of that support is entitled to claim them as a “qualifying relative.” If nobody provides that much support, you can generally claim the person as a qualifying relative if you provided over 10% of their support and you have a written agreement from anyone else who provided over 10% support that says you can claim the exemption.