This is one of the top questions we are seeing on TurboTax’s Live Community. Here’s the answer.
If your girlfriend has lived with you for all of 2008, her gross income is less than $3,500, and you’ve provided more than half of her total support, you could claim her as a dependent on your tax return. To determine if you pay for more than half of her support, see IRS Pub 17, page 33, support worksheet http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p17.pdf . Each dependent you claim on your 2008 tax return reduces your income by up to $3,500.
If she files a tax return, she would have to answer “yes” to the question “Are you being claimed as a dependent on anyone’s tax return?” Note: You can’t claim her as a dependent if living together is in violation of your local law.
What if we’re a family of three with our baby daughter?
Since the baby is your child, lived with you for more than half the year, and doesn’t provide more than half of his/her own support (little hard for a baby to do) , you can claim your daughter as your dependent.
What if my girlfriend’s son (from a previous relationship) also lives with us? Can I claim him as a dependent?
Usually you can’t claim a child as a dependent if the child can qualify as a dependent for someone else (your girlfriend.) However there is a special exception. If your girlfriend is not required to file a tax return due to low income and she does not file or files solely to get a refund of withheld income, then you can claim her son as your dependent on your tax return. If she files only to get an earned income credit, you can’t take her son as your dependent.
Do I still file as single since we’re not married?
As long as you’re the one who paid for more than half the cost of keeping up the home where you all are living and your daughter is claimed as your dependent, you can file as head of household.
Note: If your girlfriend and/or her son are the only dependents listed on your tax return, you cannot file as head of household.