Generally, you need to provide over half of the person's support during the year. However, there are special rules for children of divorced or separated parents, and for persons receiving support from two or more individuals (see separate FAQ's for these).
To determine whether you meet this test, first calculate the total cost of supporting that person. Then compare the amount of support you provided and see if it is more than half. If it is, you meet the test.
Consider the following rules in your calculations.
Support includes food, clothing, a place to live, medical and dental care, education, recreation, transportation, and similar necessities. (Add up actual amount spent; support is not based on the length of time provided.
Prorate items that do not directly relate to any one member of the household (food, utilities, etc.) based on the number of members in the household.
To determine the value of lodging, use the fair rental value. This is the amount that you could reasonably expect from a stranger for the same lodging.
DO NOT include:
Income taxes, social security taxes, and Medicare taxes,
Life Insurance premiums,
Scholarship received by your child if your child is a full-time student,or
Survivor and dependent educational assistance payments used for support of the child who receives them
The person's own money is not considered support unless they actually spent it on their own support.
Money received from state benefits (AFDC, welfare, food stamps, etc.) is considered as support provided by the state and not by you.
All child support payments are considered support of the child by the parent who provided them.
You cannot include in your contribution to your child's support any support that is paid for by the child with the child's own wages, even if you paid the wages.
The year you provide the support is the year you pay for it, even if you do so with borrowed money that you repay in a later year.
If you use a fiscal year to report your income, you must provide more than half of the dependent's support for the calendar year in which your fiscal year begins.
For more information, see Publication 501.