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
- food expenses
- household expenses
- medical and dental expenses
- 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!