A qualifying child or dependent must meet three criteria:
- Relationship – They must be the taxpayer’s child or stepchild (whether by blood or adoption), foster child, sibling or step sibling, or a descendant of any of them.
- Residence – Has the same principal residence as the taxpayer in California for more than half the tax year. Certain exceptions apply.
- Age – They must be younger than the taxpayer and either a) under the age of 19 at the end of the tax year, or b) under the age of 24 if a full-time student for at least 5 months of the year. A permanently and totally disabled child may be included at any age.
The child only qualifies for one return. If the child can be claimed by more than one taxpayer, the child’s qualification goes to:
- The taxpayer who is the child’s parent.
- If more than one taxpayer is the child’s parent, the child’s qualification goes to the parent with whom the child lived for the greatest amount of time during the year. If the child’s time was split equally between parents, the child’s qualification goes to the parent with the highest adjusted gross income (AGI).
- If no taxpayer is the child’s parent, the child’s qualification goes to the taxpayer with the highest AGI.