Editor's Note: This article is part of our 2014 Tax Tips series. Robert Flach is an expert with more than 40 years of experience as a tax professional and also blogs as The Wandering Tax Pro.

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Generally to be able to claim someone as a dependent on your tax return the person must be either your qualified child or a qualified relative. To be a qualified relative for 2013, the person must be either a member of your household for the entire year or a relative, have gross taxable income of less than $3,900, and must receive more than half of his or her total support from you.

If you do not provide more than half of the total support for a qualifying family member, an elderly parent for example, but you do pay more than 10% of that person's support, and you and other members of your family together pay more than half of the total support, you can claim him or her as a dependent under a "multiple support agreement." Only one of the family members who provide more than 10% of the support can claim the person being supported as a dependent. A different qualifying family member can claim the dependency exemption each year.

The qualifying persons who are not claiming the exemption must each sign a Form 2120 ("Multiple Support Declaration"), which is attached to the tax return of the person claiming the exemption.

Jane Taxpayer and her three brothers each provide 20% of the total support for their mother, whose only income comes from Social Security, and who lives in an assisted living facility. Early each year they get together and compare tax situations to determine which sibling would receive the most overall federal, state and local income tax benefit by claiming the mother as a dependent. When the refunds come, the person claiming the exemption gives each of his or her siblings a check for one-fourth of the total tax benefit.

--Written by Robert D. Flach for MainStreet