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Tax Day: LGBTQ People Left Behind by “Qualifying Child” and “Qualifying Relative” Tests

by Hayley Miller April 04, 2016

For LGBTQ people and families, tax season can raise unique filing questions. Ahead of Tax Day, which falls on April 18 this year, HRC is highlighting some of the biggest issues impacting the LGBTQ community.

When it comes to filing taxes, LGBTQ people are often left behind because of “qualifying child” and “qualifying relative” tests.

The relationship test for determining a qualifying child is relatively broad. For example, a taxpayer could claim their step sibling’s grandchild as their “child.” This is because the tax code is designed to reflect the economic reality of the American family.

However, the tax code leaves out many LGBTQ people who are unable to adopt their child because of restrictive state laws, limited access to the legal system or courts or fears of discrimination at work, school or in housing. IRS guidance actually explicitly provides that a “girlfriend’s child” is not considered a “qualifying child,” regardless of the support the taxpayer provides for the child throughout the year.

This means that LGBTQ parents are unable to claim their child as a “qualifying child” for tax purposes.

While marriage equality is now the law of the land, which has simplified tax law immensely, these inequalities for same-sex couples and their families remain.

Stay tuned to HRC’s blog for more helpful hints when filing your taxes.

Need help filing?

Call the IRS’ hotline at 1-800-906-9887 or visit to locate a VITA site near you.

Call 1-888-227-7669 or visit to locate an AARP-sponsored Tax-Aide site near you.

For information about Free File, visit

If you’re planning to use a paid tax preparer, here are some tips from the IRS on choosing the right one: Choosing-A-Tax-Preparer.

Hayley Miller
Hayley Miller


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