Can You Claim Parents as Dependents?

Sometimes we’re so busy growing up that we forget they’re growing old.

Everyone knows that claiming a dependent on your income tax return can get you a significantly larger refund. For every dependent you claim on your taxes you can claim an extra personal exemption. That’s a large chunk of change you can deduct from your income, thus reducing your tax burden.

But who exactly can you claim? Are you eligible to claim your parents as dependents?

When it comes to taxes there are actually two different types of dependents: qualifying children and qualifying relatives.

Obviously, you can’t claim your parents as qualifying children. So the question becomes, do they meet the requirements for qualifying relatives?

Is your parent a qualifying relative for tax purposes?

In order to claim someone as a qualifying relative they must:

  • Have lived with you all year as a member of your household, or be one of the following family members: child, parent, sibling, stepparent, stepchild, step-sibling, half sibling, grandparent, grandchild, child-in-law, parent-in-law, sibling-in-law, uncle, aunt, niece, or nephew
  • Be a U.S. citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  • Be unmarried, or married but not filing a joint return
  • Not be a qualifying child of you or someone else
  • Have a gross income of less than $4,000
  • Have more than half of their total support for the year provided by you

In plain English, this means that yes you can claim a parent as a dependent but they have to meet the above requirements.

Are Social Security Benefits included?

As a general rule, Social Security benefits are not included in gross income. For more information about Social Security and Disability benefits, check out our other article, Claiming Parents as Dependents If They Receive Social Security Benefits. Be sure to make sure they are tax-exempt, because this could determine your eligibility to claim them as a dependent.

When determining if you provided over 50% of a parent’s total support, be sure to consider

  • lodging
  • food expenses
  • utilities
  • repairs
  • household expenses
  • clothing
  • education
  • medical and dental expenses
  • travel
  • recreation expenses

If you support a parent who meets all of the requirements listed above be sure to claim them when you file online this season!


233 Replies to “Can You Claim Parents as Dependents?”

  1. If you’re claiming two parents, does the income threshold refer to their joint income, or can you count them individually?

  2. Hi so my fiance had his dad file his taxes for him to save some$$ (his dad charged him 180 so I don’t see how that saved him any money but whatever) on his taxes they put his mom as a dependent my fiance is supposed to get 1800 back on taxes minus the 180 he gave to his dad … But now his dad is saying he owes his mom 600 of that because he claimed her… Since when r dependents owed money from Ur taxes??? This can’t be right?? I think they r just manipulating my fiance to get more and more money from him… They do this all the time every month there’s some unforseen expense they demand from him. I’m 7 months pregnant and we are trying to save to move.. I told him they are trying to get money from him that’s not legally owed to them but he’s worried I’m the one who’s wrong… Can anyone verify that u don’t owe claimed dependents any money??

  3. Can i claim my mum who is a permanent resident but moved to the US on 12/1/2017; meaning she only lived with me for 1 month in 2017. She is 70 and has no ncome

  4. Can I claim my Permanent Resident grandparents as dependents if we did not live in the same household? Last year I was told by my tax consultant that I was not allowed to claim them as dependents because they were not US Citizens and we were not living in the same household. Thank you

  5. me my husband and three kids live with my grandparents. can my grandma claim my three kids on her income taxes she has supported all of us for the whole year.

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