I am a university student who is currently working on filing my 2017 federal income taxes.

My parents can no longer claim me as a dependent because they did not support me over 50% in 2017. However, my college tuition, room, and board (over 50% of my support) were paid of a 529 funded by my grandparents.

On the tax form, I am wondering whether I have to check the box “I can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return”. While I believe I cannot be claimed on anyone else’s return, I didn’t pay half of my own support.

Whether or not I can check this box makes a very large difference in the size of my return. Should I to check the box or not?

  • Did you live with your grandparents at all in 2017 when you weren't in school?
    – Ben Miller
    Mar 30, 2018 at 3:48
  • @BenMiller not at all Mar 30, 2018 at 3:53
  • Did you earn more than $4,050 in 2017? Also, did you live with your parents when not in school?
    – Hart CO
    Mar 30, 2018 at 4:29
  • @HartCO Yes and yes Mar 30, 2018 at 5:28
  • Sorry, and you're under 24?
    – Hart CO
    Mar 30, 2018 at 5:40

1 Answer 1


Sounds like your parents can claim you as a dependent. The test isn't if they provided 50% of your support, but that you didn't provide more than 50% of your own support.

The instructions for Form 1040, line 6c list the following requirements for a qualifying child:

A qualifying child is a child who:

  • Is your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, or a descendant of any of them (for example, your grandchild, niece, or nephew)
  • Was under age 19 at the end of 2017 and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly) or Under age 24 at the end of 2017, a student (defined later), and younger than you (or your spouse, if filing jointly) or Any age and permanently and totally disabled (defined later)
  • Who didn't provide over half of his or her own support for 2017 (see Pub. 501)
  • Who isn't filing a joint return for 2017 or is filing a joint return for 2017 only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid (see Pub. 501 for details and examples)
  • Who lived with you for more than half of 2017. If the child didn't live with you for the required time, see Exception to time lived with you, later.

They don't consider being away at college to break the residency test, that's part of the "Exception to time lived with you" section.

Edit: Updated to better source mentioned by @prl

  • You could argue that if the OP was the beneficiary of the 529 that he did provide his own support since the 529 is legally his to use as he sees fit.
    – D Stanley
    Mar 30, 2018 at 16:19
  • @DStanley Don't think the IRS agrees with that argument, unless the student funded the 529 account. Source of funds seems the primary consideration for support.
    – Hart CO
    Mar 30, 2018 at 16:37

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