So Dependent On You: Who Can I Claim as a Dependents on my 2009 Tax Return?

Over the past few years, questions around who can claim who and why has dramatically changed. There are more blended families in the U.S. The economy has taken a toll on our bottom lines resulting in three or four generations of families living together to save money. And yes, even non-family members moving in with each other to save a buck.

So how do those changes affect your tax situation? Can you claim your girlfriend on your taxes? What about your son who lives with your mother? And of course, pets. Can you claim Buster the beagle on your taxes? I sat down with Lee Ferris, one of our in-house tax experts and asked her those same questions.

The question and answer session aims to explain some of the more common dependent questions so you can get your biggest refund possible.

Question: Can someone claim their girlfriend or boyfriend on their taxes?

Answer: If your girlfriend has lived with you for all of 2009, her gross income is less than $3,650, and you’ve provided more than half of her total support (which is room board, food, car, insurance, etc.), 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 501 page 20. Each dependent you claim on your 2009 tax return reduces your taxable income by up to $3,650.

Question: What if we have a child, can I claim the baby also?

Answer: If the baby is your child, lived with you for more than half the year, and can’t support itself, you can claim the child as your dependent. And I know you are thinking, ‘Of course my baby can’t support itself.’ This was a-recent change by the IRS and a good example is if you have a child that is an actor. That child might be receiving a decent income and that counts as supporting itself.

But for all those parents with non-actor children out there, you can claim a child under the age of 19. If the child is a full-time student then you can claim them until the age of 24. If they are 25, working on their master’s degree and not earning any income you might be able to claim what the IRS calls a “qualified relative.” I would recommend visiting the IRS link to get more info on what defines the qualified relative and qualified child.

Question: My sister lives with me, and she receives Social Security Disability Benefits. If I charge her rent – which gets paid with social security – can I claim her as a dependent on my tax return?

Answer: If you are providing more than half of her total support (taking into consideration the rent she’s paying you) and she doesn’t make more than $3,650 a year, you can most likely claim her. Remember her social security isn’t counted as gross income. Look at the IRS worksheet in pub 501 to get more information on this.

Question: Can I claim any of my pets? What if they require special needs?

Answer: No. But I have been reading about a bill in Congress that is making the rounds that allows people to deduct pet medical expenses up to $3,500. The bill is proposed by Republican Thaddeus McCotter of Michigan. I am not sure what will happen with this but it is worth paying attention to.

Q: My parents just moved in with us so that we can take care of them. Can I claim them?

Answer: This is a common question right now because of the economy. If they are living with you, their only source of income is social security, and you are supporting them by more than 50 percent, you can claim them as a qualified relative. Remember, social security doesn’t count towards their gross income. Also, remember that since they are qualified relatives, they don’t have to live with you. You could be supporting them in their own home and still claim them as dependents.

Question: Can I still claim my spouse even though she received unemployment the majority of the year?

Answer: Even if your spouse is a stay-at-home mom, you can’t claim her as a dependent. This is why I encourage you to file a joint return. That way you get $3,650 for you and $3,650 for your spouse as a write-off – also known as an exemption. So 99 percent of the time it is more beneficial to file jointly because of that write-off amount and other deductions and credits.

However, one of my top questions this year is “Is unemployment taxable?” And the answer is, the first $2,400 of unemployment is NOT taxable. If both spouses receive unemployment benefits during 2009, each may exclude from taxable income the first $2,400 of benefits they received.

Question: I have been supporting my grandchild for the past six months and paid for everything. Do I claim her or does my daughter?

Answer: It depends. There are some questions you need to answer first. Will the father claim the child on his return? Is your daughter going to claim the child? If the child has lived with you for more than six months, both the father and your daughter are not going to claim the child , then yes, you can probably claim your granddaughter as a qualified child and get the various child credits on your tax return.

Question: Can I claim my niece if she is here on a student visa, going to college, and living with us? She makes no money here, pays no rent to us and we support all her expenses, except for tuition.

Answer: In this case, if she is under 24 and a full-time student and she’s not a qualifying child for anyone else, you can probably claim her as a dependent. But I like to urge people to please ensure that someone else is not already claiming the person in question as a dependent. Your niece can’t be claimed more than once. Also you can only claim the niece as a dependent if she’s a U.S citizen, U.S. resident, U.S. National, or resident of Canada or Mexico.

For questions we haven’t covered, please check out the page. The site has updated sample situations to help U.S. filers.

Check out this TurboTax video as well:

Comments (182) Leave your comment

  1. My parents are my nieces and nephews social security payees and guardian’s however, they live with me. They’ve lived with me since my sister passed away. My question is, can they legally claim them on their taxes? They don’t provide care for them outside the social security they receive. The kids don’t nor ever have lived with them. They say they have to claim them because they get their money. I read somewhere that social security money doesn’t have to be claimed on taxes. If this is true I believe they’ve been committing fraud. I need answers because they don’t help me with them as far as their every day needs. They bought a house with their social security and have been making double payments on the house. They won’t give me money for food or daily basic needs. I also would like to know if they are buying a house with their money don’t they have to leave it to them when they turn 18? They have been threatening to kick me and my kids out if I question them or being it up. Quite frankly, I’m tired of being threatened and taken advantage of . Could someone please help me? Thanks, Michelle.

  2. My parents are my nieces and nephews social security payees and guardian’s however, they live with me. They’ve lived with me since my sister passed away. My question is, can they legally claim them on their taxes? They don’t provide care for them outside the social security they receive. The kids don’t nor ever have lived with them. They say they have to claim them because they get their money. I read somewhere that social security money doesn’t have to be claimed on taxes. If this is true I believe they’ve been committing fraud. I need answers because they don’t help me with them as far as their every day needs. They bought a house with their social security and have been making double payments on the house. They won’t give me money for food or daily basic needs. I also would like to know if they are buying a house with their money don’t they have to leave it to them when they turn 18? They have been threatening to kick me and my kids out if I question them or being it up. Quite frankly, I’m tired of being threatened and taken advantage of . Could someone please help me?

  3. Question. In 2010 my son was raising a child as his own daughter. He claimed her that year as his “daughter”. Now the IRS is asking for the EIC money back, stating “falsification of relationship”. No one else contributed to her financially, nor did anyone else claim her that year. How can we rectify that so he doesn’t owe almost 5k? Thanks.

  4. I’m a married 21 year old. My husband is not a resident of the US yet he lives in India and my dad is sponsoring him because I don’t work. Obviously my husband and I don’t file taxes. My dad put me as dependant on hi tax return, which I am. Is this right? Can he get in trouble. And will it be problem if I apply for financial aid for college with my dad’s taxes while he’s sponsoring my husband? Please help ASAP. Thank you

  5. can i claim for my great grand children as they stay with my wife and my self as s/work placed them hear

  6. turbo tax lisa: i claimed a child that i had raised since 2 and now is 16 this was the first year that i claimed her and i was audited.. i could not find the information that they were requesting for proof is there any way to get this mess fixed

    • Hi Jennifer,
      It may be possible that someone else claimed the child, which will show up as a duplicate social security number used which will cause the IRS to send you a letter. If she is not your relative, she would have to live with you the entire year for you to claim her. You would also need to provide half of her support. If she lived with you the entire year, you should be able to use her school enrollment records showing your same address, her state ID or driver’s license with your address, and medical records. You would also have to be able to show receipts for providing over half of her support.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  7. My daughter is permanently disabled due to a brain tumor and four brain surgeries. She and my three grandchildren have had to live with us for over 6 months in 2013 following forclosure on their home. If I claim the grandchildren on my taxes how will it effect her social security disability benefits for the children and their Medicade.


  8. my family just came from out of country, i was the one who support them the whole year. can i claim them in my tax return?

    • Hi Oscar,
      If your girlfriend’s daughter lived with you the entire year, you provided over half of her support, she did not have over $3,900 in earned income, no one else is eligible to claim her, and she meets the citizenship test then you will be able to claim her. TurboTax will guide you through questions and give you the deduction for her if you’re eligible.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  9. My husband claimed me as a dependant and were married but going through a divorce so we did taxes jointly I’ve never worked since the years I was with him but my question is do I have any rights to get money from him he only wants to give me $500 .

  10. I am retired.Social security is only source of income. My granddaughter helps me out by buying groceries, taxables and sometime my medicine. Can she claim those things on her taxes for 2014?

  11. I would like to know if my husband can claim me if i recieve SSI and if so what does he need to file? Thank you

  12. Hello my fiance has been living with me and didn’t work at all last year, due to having Cancer. He is on disability. And is 2 years older than me. When i file do i file as a head of house hold with a qualifying dependent? Or as a single with dependent? I’m confused. Please help !

    • You’d file head of household. My concern would be dealing with Social Security because if he is on SSI (not SSDI), they may use your income deciding how much SSI he continues to get. There are some information that is filed with the IRS that Social Security can gain access to.

  13. My son is 19..he worked all of 2013 and helped support his siblings because I was layed off.i just started back working December 2013 and didn’t make a lot…could he file his younger siblings on his income tax?

  14. I am a payee of a 19 year old that receives social security he lives with me and my mom can claim him on my federal taxes

    • Who is the head of the house? Does he receives SSDI or SSI? SSI is not counted as income, so based on that and you provide for half of the person’s well being, you could file. However, if you are taking care of this indivdual, it might effect his benefits.

  15. my neice is on medicad under her moms name..but she has lived with me atleast 7 months out of this year..would it is be ok if I was to carry her on my taxes? or would that be considered fraud on hers/my part ?my sister will not be filling it will only be me .

  16. My 16 year old daughter lived with me for five months before she decided to run away and live with several other people before she was put in foster care, no one else can claim her because she hasn’t lived with anyone else for more than a month. I am still her legal guardian, can I claim her?

  17. I’m a full time student an my father claims me, I recently applied for financial aid help as a dependent an I aslo have a baby would it affect my financial aid if I let the father of the baby claim her? is there any way I can claim myself. I don’t work as I’m a full time student .

  18. I’m a stay at home mom and my four year old if on disability for autism, do or can I file taxes since I have not worked due to taking care of him?

  19. So i am living with my mom she has no income and i recive child support for my oldest daughter and have supporting the house my mom snd two kids on my own. Can i claim my 2 yr old and my 4 month old and my mother and possiblly head of house hold or can i even file. I didnt wok at all for last year so would i be ok to file. Andvi didnt file last year cause i thought i had to be working to file can i file for last year and just my oldest daughter and my mom for the last 6 months of the year?

    • Child Support is not considered taxable income. Unless you have earned income or taxable income, you would not need to file.

  20. Hello, I have a niece that lives with me, she is an international student, I am her financial sponsor, I provide all her needs, but she is not a citizen. can I claim her when filing my taxes

  21. I have a sister, her newly born baby and her husband living with me the entire last year (2013). They are jobless and have 0 income. My sister and niece have medicaid medical insurance from the government. If i claim them as dependent on my tax return, will the government take away there medical insurance? will i be responsible for there medical insurance for next year because i claimed them on my tax return?

  22. I have been living with my grandmother for the past 9 months or so and she wants to claim me and my daughter this year. I worked for 3 months recently and therefore I get taxes im 19 with a 2 year old daughter and I get snap & Medical for us through welfare. Is it still possible for her to claim us when I refuse for her too? is there away around her claiming me?

    • She is still eligible to claim you, your income under a certain amount, and your daughter. However, if you would RATHER not have her claim you, you should let her know not to. I have seen instances where it is a race. If you file before she does, then she cant claim you. If she files before you do, and you file afterwards, you would have to deal directly with the IRS by filing affidavits.

  23. I was wondering. If I got welfare & food stamps for 10 months last year & unemployment for 2 months, can my live-in boyfriend claim me and my daughters as a dependent on his 2013 tax return legally?

  24. Hello my husbands brother is living with us do to the fact that my mother in law became very ill with leukemia and is unable to take care of him. My mother in law receives welfare for my brother in law (he is 13 years old) which she gives to us to help us financially as we take care of my brother. Are we able to claim him in our taxes since he lives with us and we cover all of his expenses?

  25. Me and my fiancé have been living together for over 6 years. I have the receipts and everything stating I have paid the bills for his mother we are not married. She is unemployed and has been the entire year, can I claim her as a dependant?

    • my sons girlfriend and her child live with him.the child receives survivor benefits. the mother made under $100 and is under 25 so can’t claim the child. Can my son claim the child AND the girlfriend?

  26. My boyfriend, younger brother, and I all live in the same home, how would I file on my taxes? Both my boyfriend and I work and need to file taxes. My younger brother just turned 19 and doesn’t work. I’m just unsure on how we would both file. One of us single and the other head of household..? Probably a dumb question to some but I need help!

  27. Need to know if I can claim childern that are not related to me but I pay over 75% of everything in the house the childrens mother does not work there father us a reseverist and thats his only income they have 6 children that I am paying for there clothes food shelter among other expenses in the house

  28. Hi I was just wondering could my grandma claim me if Im married and me and my husband have a baby together and my address is somewhere else?

  29. I have not worked this past year I have not made any income…I live with my boyfriend and our son…I do owe child support due to lack of work to my parents for my daughter….would this effect the outcome if I have my boyfriend claim me as well

  30. Hi I just want to ask coz my auntie petitioned me and my parents here in US we lived in her house for 7months.. on the first two months we didnt have a job but the time we got jobs we technically pay her every month for $400 and now we’ve home and she said that she’s gonna get our income tax.. is that possible?

    • Hi,
      If each of you earned $3,900 or more during 2013, your aunt cannot claim you as dependents on her tax return, even though you lived with her for more than half the year.
      You and your parents will need to file your own income tax returns. TurboTax will ask all the questions to help you prepare a correct tax return.
      Mary Ellen

    • Hi April,
      Congratulations. Yes you can claim your baby. Make sure you have a social security number for your baby when you file.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  31. My husband and I have been married for a year and 4 months and we moved out of state and I files for tanf for about 3 months until we got on our feet an my kids father isnt my husband and im wondering would I get in trouble if my husband and I filed jointly for getting tanf which puts child support on my kids father since I dont think your supposed to file for tanf while married

  32. My mother receives SSD (Social Security Disability) and is on section 8; however, I pay for her rent, clothing, electricity, food, flights, cell phone, Flat Screen TV, Cable etc, and credit cards. Can I claim her on my taxes without causing any interference w/ her SSD and Section 8?

  33. Im seventeen and i work at wendy’s. I live with my grandmother. My mom has been claiming me on food stamps for years. I think my grandal gets social security because of age. My dads in prison for now. i want to claim my own income taxs but if i cant, what do i go about doing this? Do i tell my mom to drop me on food stamps? Do i have my gmal claim me and make sure no one else does?

    • Hi Brandon,
      If you want to claim your own taxes this year you would be able to claim yourself as an exemption so you can get tax deductions and credits. If someone else claims you, you would not be able to get your personal exemption of $3,900 and other tax deductions and credits. It is up to you and your grandmother whether or not she gets to claim you as a dependent or not, but if you take the dependent exemption she or no one else can claim you.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      • …and the food stamp issue, you would have to talk to Social Services to show that you are creating your own income and is with your grandmother, not your mom.

  34. I am 37 and im on ssi plus i work very little on the side. Do i get an income taxreturn for my job and do i have to report it?

  35. Can I claim a non relative who is pregnant and on medicaid and receives food stamps. She is living with me and I have paid for additional food, clothing, room and board, bought clothing and everything that is needed for the baby (crib, bassinet,stroller, etc.) She is 20 years old and just received her GED; she plans to go to college after the baby is born in December.

  36. Can I claim a child if I worked 10 months and if my job closes and I go on unemployment for two can I still claim my child.

  37. My Daughter lives out of state and is working 3-part time jobs and raising 3-toddlers on her own. She rarely makes enough to pay the bills & receives no assistance from the Father of her children. I send her apx $400.00 per month in order to make up the difference. Can/should I claim my Grandchildren? If so, would it hurt the small amount of food assistance she’s getting from the state?

    • the $400 will count as extra income for your daughter in regards to Social Services. Since the grandchildren are not living with you and what you provide is not the majority of what makes up her household, I dont think you can file for them.

  38. I have one child in HS and one away at college. After divorce i will still be their primary residence and will pay many of their expenses. My ex will be paying for their college, car, car insurance, and all medical expenses. Can he carry them on his health insurance if I claim Head of Household for taxes? I will be paying their expenses with the majority of the money coming from spousal support.

  39. I have been together with my ex boyfriend for 5 years and we were already making plans to get married before we broke up recently. I like to admit that we did have our differences and we had a few fights often but we always got out of it. About 3 weeks ago, I literarily caught him flirting with a very close friend of mine, it’s totally unacceptable to me and that led to a separation. We broke up after that incident and I told him I never want to see him again. At this moment, it’s barely two weeks ago and I miss him already. I don’t want to lose my ex boyfriend to any gold digger. I want to know how to attract my boyfriend to me again, I need to know how to win his heart get my ex back into my life? I called him several times and he would not even pick up his phone. I don’t care
    f I have to use psychological tricks or tips advice to win back his heart after the break up. Everything I’ve tried to do seems not to be working. I love my boyfriend, he loved me and I don’t know what to do or say. He was the one who cheated on me and I’m to forgive him. But he didn’t even try to reconcile. I know he loves me, but my best friend whom he flirted with is trying to steal my
    boyfriend away from me,I need to reconnect and reunite our relationship, i try all my best until i mate a female great spell caster online Name Dr Kate ( i explain every thing that happened to me, she told me not to worry that she is gonna help me if only i can help my self and i told her yes. she promise to help me cast a return and love spell that last forever, after i summit my information, she cast the return and love spell and guarantee me after three days my ex-boyfriend is going to call me and asking for my forgiveness, i was so surprise the third day of it in the morning my ex-boyfriend call me on phone telling me he is come back that i should forgive him, thank you once again Dr kate ( she is the best you can reach her email address.

  40. My sister is paying child support for her two boys but they do not live with her. The father and boys are on welfare and receiving child support. Can she claim the boys on her income tax? Can the father let someone claim the boys if they do not support them?

  41. Hello. I am 17 years old and live with my single mother. I work a part time job and will make about $10000 at the end of the 2013 year; this job obviously takes out both Federal and State taxes, my question is, what do I claim myself as? My mom still buys my food, some clothes, and I live with her as she pays almost all of the house payments. So, what do I claim myself as? What if she claims me as dependent?

  42. My niece live with me and I have tooken care of her since birth, her mother and father do not file taxes. Can I claim her as a dependent since I provide for her?

  43. My granddaughter lived with me from the end of Feb to mid Oct of last year. Received no money from her mother, who lived with me on and off also,she’s now 21. Her grandfather has ALREADY claimed her, saying he paid for her day care (that’s all). I SHOULD be able to claim my granddaughter (4 yrs old), right? The grandfather and I did not live together since Feb 24 th.

  44. my daughter draws a check from her stepdad,if i get a job can i claim her on my insome tax?

  45. Can my son that is 20 claim his child on his taxes? The child lives his girlfriend and her mother. Her mother is on disability and is saying he can claim him. This was also the case last year and he tried to claim him but the IRS would not let him. All they said was that the childs SS number belonged to someone else. Don’t understand wehat that meant. So his taxes were adjusted down.

  46. My ex and I have two children and we’ve never had a custody agreement. I have the kids primarily and he goes months without seeing them. He doesnt pay any type of child support or help out at all. Does he have any grounds to claim the two kids this year?

    • Hi Pamela – Based on what you said, it seems as though you, as the custodial parent would qualify to claim the children. Determining if someone can be claimed as a dependent can be quite complex. In general, since you don’t have an Agreement in place, in order for your Ex to claim them, they would need to live with them over half the year, and he would have to pay over half of their support. Please see page 8 of IRS Publication 504 for details and more information. Thanks, Karen

  47. Can you claim two family members that you care for who receive ssi and they are unable to work? The only income they have is SSI

  48. My son and I are living in a family friends home.We receive state help (snap/med) as I am not working and go to school. Can the head of household claim us? They do help out here and there, personal items, clothing, mostly for my son. We live rent free in their home and pay no bills. Only agreement we have is that I keep in school and or be looking for work. Can they/he claim us since we receive state help?

  49. I share joint custody 50-50 and i work and pay child support. my efile got rejected because someone claimed my kids. the mother of my kids is on welfare and doesnt work. can her mother the kids grandmother claim the kids over me. i have the kids half the time and pay my child support.

    • Hi Esteban – Probably not. In any case, you will need to file a paper copy of your return; you will not be able to efile now. When the IRS sees that two different taxpayers have claimed the children, they will investigate and decide who is entitled to claim them. The taxpayer who was not eligible will have their taxes adjusted accordingly — possibly with penalties and interest. –Christopher

      • ok so my kids mother is on welfare but lives with her mother (grandmother) in tha same home. THE KIDs grandmother works only part time and they depend on my kids welfare and foodstamps and child support. i have the kids then same amount of time 50-50 and the kids mother doesnt go to school nor work. i go to work and pay taxes including child support. who gets to claim the kids on income tax time. me the father or the kids grandmother who obviously use the kids welfare to pay rent and the kids food stamps to buy groceries. i have the kids the same amount of time work full time and pay child support. so who is entittled to claim the kids in the income tax?

    • ok so my kids mother is on welfare but lives with her mother (grandmother) in tha same home. THE KIDs grandmother works only part time and they depend on my kids welfare and foodstamps and child support. i have the kids then same amount of time 50-50 and the kids mother doesnt go to school nor work. i go to work and pay taxes including child support. who gets to claim the kids on income tax time. me the father or the kids grandmother who obviously use the kids welfare to pay rent and the kids food stamps to buy groceries. i have the kids the same amount of time work full time and pay child support. so who is entittled to claim the kids in the income tax?

  50. I had court ordered legal custody of my granddaughter from Oct 2011 to Oct 2012 – can I claim her as a dependent for 2012? She lived with us until Oct 10, 2012 and we paid all her expenses.

  51. Hi, My brother has been living with me since June of 2011. He has a job, but I pay everything as bills and food wise and he uses my vehicle. Would I be able to claim him when I do my taxes. He is 19 years old and I am 24 years old. Thank you

  52. Hi, my mother, younger brother, and I are living together. I have a full time job. My mother receives a disability check for my brother every month and child support every week. She has no other income at this time. Can I claim both of them on my taxes?

  53. HI i was wondering, me and my wife are seperated but not legally and get ssi can i still claim her on my taxes e have five children too.and she draws foodstamps too….thankk you

  54. Hi I was wondering if i could claim my wife on my taxes if we are seperated but ot ligelly and she draws SSI and we have five children

  55. My girlfriends makes nothing and fits everything so I can claim her. However I was wondering if I can claim her mother who is on Social Security, and her daughter, whom she adopted and gets income from the government. With everything taken into account I pay for half of her expenses but not her moms, can I claim both or her?

    • Hi Chris – You should be fine to claim them, if that is the only income they have. Make sure to go through the Dependents screens in Turbo Tax as it does a great job of helping determine who qualifies as a dependent.
      Thanks, Karen

  56. Hi my sister has been living with me for the last three years and i would like to know if i can claim her on my tax refund this year even though she receives 650.00 a month on social security.

    • Hi Alice – Social Security does not count as support, so it won’t affect your ability to claim your sister. TurboTax will confirm whether she qualifies as your dependent. –Christopher

  57. My mother supported my daughter, myself and hausband for the first 6 months. All three of us recieve SSDI but my mother pays for 50% of my living expenses. Do I claim the SSDI income on her taxes as she claims us as dependants???

  58. My friend (who cannot work) and her three children (all under 18) have lived with me for the entire year (minus every other weekend visits with their father). Barring weekly child support checks to the children’s mother, I provide ALL the support, monetary and otherwise, for these 4 people who are not legally related to me. Can I claim them?

  59. Hi … my 18 year old daughter lives with me and she work a temp-part job from Oct – Dec earning less than $2000.00 of course i supported her through the year . but my question is that does she has to file? and can I still claim her being that i took care of her financially…how does this work now that she received her w2

  60. My brother has a live in girlfriend and her two grandchildren live with them. Can he claim them even tho he is not related to them. He provided their support in 2012 and no one else is claiming them.

  61. My brother has a live in girlfriend and also her two grandchildren living with them. Can he claim the two grandchildren (even tho they are not related to him) on his taxes since he provided support for them in 2012. No one else is claiming them.

  62. I Have A Sister And Her Baby That Dont Live With Me But Shes Lives With Her Boy Friend And He Is Supported Threw His Mother, She Pays The Rent And light I Pay the water Get Them Food And Pampers Formula And Other Personal Things. Question Can I Claim Then Both Sister And Lil baby

  63. My daughter was premature and received SSI because of it she was over payednow she has stopped receiving it and Ijust haven’t had the money to offer a settlement, my mother has been helpng me support her for the last year so I was going to let my mom claim her but Idont want to screw her over, so my question is, am Iresponsible for paying back for the over payment or is it hooked directly to my daughters SSN? And I made less then 3500$ this year so could my mom claim me as well or would they garnish her return… the over payment was for 8,000$….please help!!

  64. My Uncle had been collecting less then $150/W on unemployment for about half of the year 2012, I have been helping him out with more then half of his other finance needs, he also currently owes the irs but is up to date with payments. Can i claim him on my taxes this year?

    • Hi Nicole,
      Because your uncle would be considered your “qualifying relative”, in order for you to claim him
      he could not earn more than $3,800 taxable income in 2012. Since unemployment is taxable and it sounds like he would have earned more than $3,800 you can not claim him. If it turns out the amount is less than that and you provided over half of his support you would be able to claim him.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  65. My dad has been living with me and he doesnt have any source of income. He is not able to work and he is in the process of applying for disability. Since he staying with me, without any payments or help could I claim him on mine and my husbands taxes?

    • Hi Tippi,
      Yes you could as long as:
      -You provided over half of his support for the year
      -He did not make over $3,800 for the year
      -He is a US Citizen, national, resident of Canada or Mexico
      TurboTax will ask you the necessary questions to take the deduction if you’re eligible.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  66. Hi, my husband and I can not file taxes because we are on disability. My 17 year old daughter who lives with us is working. Can she claim our 7 year old son on her taxes?

  67. Hi Beck – You would typically file jointly with your wife (unless she is a non-resident). Filing a joint return allows an exemption for yourself and your spouse which is the same amount as the dependent exemption. You do not separately claim here as a dependent. For your child to qualify, they must also be a US citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. This link has more details about who is a dependent

  68. I am trying to find out if my son can claim his girlfriend and her son if she is recv. social security from her husbands death? I am wondering if i can claim her and her son as a dependent.

    • Tam… In general, there are 5 tests that have to be met to claim someone as a dependent on your return (or your son’s in this case). Because TurboTax walks you through the tests to determine if you qualify, I would recommend your son do that. It is much easier doing this than wading through the IRS publication. By the way, one of the tests is an income test. Social security is not counted as income for purposes of this test. Only one person can claim someone else as a dependent on their return. It may be you or your son, but not both. Go through the TurboTax interview to see which one of you may qualify. It’s worth a lot of money, so give it a shot. Good luck!

      Bob Meighan, VP TurboTax

  69. My daughter and myself have lived with my boyfriend all year. I received unemployment from april 2012 through december of 2012, totaling 4118.00. can he claim both of us or just my daughter? Her bilogical father cannot claim her at all. Thanks

  70. My grandson lived with me for 7 months of the year and then went back to live with his father. Can I claim him on my 2012 taxes? What if the father says he is going to claim him too? The mother hasn’t worked and is not in the child’s life and will not be filling a return.

  71. i have my niece and she stay with me and her mother but most of the year with me can i clam her and then her mom clam her next year

  72. Hi, I posted a question a couple weeks ago and did not receive a response. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    I posted: Hi, I am a single foster mother on SSI and SSDI due to brain cancer and cannot work. Due to this, I have no income of my own aside from what I receive in benefits. I have a little one I’ve been taking care of for a little over a year now. Can I claim her on my taxes? I have never (since being disabled) needed to pay anything towards taxes but would I receive a refund (I’d love to start a college fund for her) this year? I am in the process of adopting her also so would this also change my taxes for the following year? Thank you so much =)

    • Hi Brittan – It sounds like you have a lot going on in your life. You can claim your foster child as a dependent as long as she lived with you and you provided her support. This link has more details about who is a dependent Typically, in order to receive a refund of taxes, you have to have had taxes withheld on your pay or have paid in estimated taxes. If you are thinking about credits, most of them require you to have “earned income”. I would suggest starting a return for free with Turbo TAx…and make sure to go through the dependents and credits section to see how it works out for you.

  73. I’m 21 and planning on getting married this summer. My fiancee and I are both college students and planning on getting our own apartment. I have not lived with my mom for almost 2 years. I don’t receive any financial help from her but I am covered in her health insurance and car insurance policies. I don’t work but I support myself with my financial aid refund. This year and the previous years she has claimed me as a dependent and so I was wondering if I’m married, will she still be able to claim me as a dependent next year since I’m on her health insurance and car insurance policies? If she won’t be able to claim me, will my fiancee be able to claim me next year if he’s the one working and I don’t work? Again, if I receive a financial aid refund next year, that will be my only income I have.

    • Hi – It can get very confusing. Hopefully, I can help clear it up a little. If you are married, typically, you and your husband will file a joint return. Filing a joint return allows a personal exemption for each of you which “takes the place” of the dependent exemption. It doesn’t matter whether you earn income or not. This link Who Is A Dependent? Let up know if you need more help!

      • Thanks for the reply! I was wondering would I be able to file my own taxes this year and have my mom not claim me as dependent since I support myself with my financial aid? Or is that still considered support from my mom?

  74. I have been Taking care of my sister for more than 6 months but she was never unenrolled from her school in Michigan, but was living with me in Florida, would this cause problems?

  75. My sister in law wants me to claim her children on my taxes because she gets SSI and its not taxable income. The only issue I have is that she also receives medicaid and food stamps for these kids based on her income –
    is this something that is legal to do?? i dont want any problems with IRS

  76. Good Morning! My 17 year old step-daughter receives Social Security benefits through her father who is disabled. The Social Security money is then used for most of her care. Which parent gets to claim her? Is it the parent who the benefits are provided under, or the parent she lives with over 50% of the time? Thank you for your time!

  77. My cousin has been living with me for 11 months out of 2012. I’ve been paying most of the living expenses. Will claiming her affect her SSI benefits? She’s concerned that her SSI will be decreased.

    • Hi! Claiming her as a dependent will not affect her SSI benefits. If she still has questions, she should contact Social Security. Cheers! –Christopher

    • Hi! A child born during 2012 is considered to have lived with you the whole year — even if he or she never left the hospital! –Christopher

  78. Hi, I posted a question a few weeks ago and have not gotten a response. I posted: “Hi, I’ve receive SSDI benefits for myself and my children for the entire year. None of my benefits for the year are taxable. I am also divorced and share 50/50 custody with my childrens father. Since I will not be getting a refund and we share custody can their father claim them? I’m ok with it, I just wanted to make sure it was legal before he does so since I receive the disability benefits for them. Neither of us pays child support since we share 50/50 custody.” Thank you.

    • Hi Callie,
      If there is a divorce decree that states you are the custodial parent and can claim your child, then you have to sign Form 8832 or a similar statement to release your claim to an exemption for your child. Your child’s father must attach the form to the tax return.

      If your divorce decree did not assign a custodial parent then you won’t need to sign the form

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      • Hi im heather can i claim my half sister? She lived with me but , my dad forgot to take her out of school.

      • Hello Lisa

        Can claim for my tax return my wife and my son as a dependent we lived with them more than a half year but they are in outside US. ?

  79. I was out of the country last year and did not file 2011 Taxes. My neice lived with me and I provided for her for that year. She was 17 then, now she is 18 and will be filing her own taxes this year. When I file 2011 taxes this year, can I claim her on my 2011 taxes?

  80. Hi
    My mom came from my country on novmber,2012 and she got her green card on december,2012 so now she is a permenent resident. My question is can I claim her as a depenent?????
    P.S she is 48 years old and I she lives with me and I pay all her expenses. Thank you

  81. I have been the head of the house hold from jan-oct of 2012 in oct my husband who did not work all year filled for divorce. How do I file my taxes and can he claim our kids?

  82. Hi Lisa,

    My Mom is 65 years old, and has been receiving Social Security pension of $475 monthly and out of this, $100 is taken out for her Medicare. Can I claim her as my dependent since I’ve been supporting her?

    Thank you.


  83. can you claim your grandchildren if you helped support them 7 months and they are on hoosier healthwise as their insurance and their mother is getting food stamps

    • we have a similar situation, our daughter and her 2 childern(our grandkids) have been living here for three years, although she,,,to coing a phrase…’stuck it to us’ the last two years,,as in claiming herself, and the kids. This year(2013),,,or,,for tax years 2012 i should say, WE took the deduction,,not only for the grandkids,,but our daughter,,and wear and tear that the kids performned on our houshold. Not to mention the non-custodial parent, i.e, their biological father, hasn’ paid a shred in child suporrt. We have also written off everything we purchased for the kids over the last year,,,clothing,,even meals/food.

  84. The father of my nieces and nephews has been unemployed for the past year and collecting disability. The children are at my house 50% of the time and with him 50% of the time as thier mother (my unemployed sister) lives with me and has been for the past 7 months. I have been the financial provider for my sister and the children for the past 7 months, can their father claim them as dependents even though he has not worked in 2012?

  85. I’m a stay at home spouse, with no children. Should my husband file claiming me as a dependent or do I need to file as well even though I do not work (nor do I receive unemployment). He’s currently deployed and will be filing his taxes on TurboTax online this year. Thanks!

  86. Hi Shawn-

    I am assuming you meant her biological father can claim her. Unfortunately, under the IRS tie-breaking rules, the biological parent has priority when claiming a dependent. If he agrees to give up the dependency exemption, then you can claim her (via your wife/her mother).

  87. Can I claim my step-daughter if she lived with me for over 6 months of the year and I provided primary support for her even though a parenting plan states that her biological daughter can claim her every year as long as his child support is paid in full?

  88. Nice post. I was watching continuously this site and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specifically the last part I care for such info much. I was looking for this particular info for a long time. Thank you and best of luck.

  89. Both my sons and I lived with my mother for all of 2012. I received unemployment for the first 4 months of the year and was a full time student the last half of the year. My mother is going to be claiming both my children since she provided the financial support. Can she also claim me ? I am 33 if that matters

    • Hi Nicole,
      Your mother can claim you as along as:
      – She provided over half of your support
      – You did not earn over $3,800 in taxable income. This would include your unemployment income.
      – You are a US citizen, national, resident of Mexico or Canada

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  90. My wife was a student in 2010, is her income to be included? Or is there an amount up to a certain value that can be excluded?

  91. Hello,
    My Son was born on June 12 2012. Would I be able to claim him as a dependent for 2012 return? Thanks.

  92. Hello June,

    As I understand it, the adoptive parents are now legally the parents of your biological children, making you and your husband not related to them legally. For “non-relatives” the IRS says that the children would have to live with you all twelve months of 2011 in order for you to claim them as dependents on your return. Accordingly, you will need to file an Amended return (on paper – Amended returns cannot be electronically filed) and remove the children as dependents for 2011.

    Going forward, I would recommend that you seek legal advice as soon as possible to formalize your living situation with the children.

    Thank you,
    Denise Elliott

  93. On February 4,2012 i posted a question and was just curious as to why my question was the only one that was skipped over and never answered. I was not aware of making any mistakes on my question and i am pretty sure it is a legit question and i have followed all rules and guidelines.

    • Hi June,
      I apologize if it did not get answered. Can you please tell me what your question is?
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      • My 2 boys were adopted 7 years ago due to some problems my husband and i were having. The adoptive parents called us on February 2011 and said come get them i want them out ofd here. My husband and i have had the 2 boys since February 2011 and have taken 100% financially responsibility for them as the adoptive parents have paid 0% for these boys. Now my husband and i filed our taxes & claimed the boys since we took care of them for 10 months of the 2011 year. The adoptive parents called me today saying even though i took care of them that we had no right to claim them. Is this true? Did the adoptive parents have the right to claim the 2 boys even though they threw them out and did not put not 1 cents towards their care? Did my husband and i have the right to claim them since we provided 100% of all care financially, emotionally and physically?

    • Hi Roberta,
      Yes you can file your taxes and if your children are under 19 or under the age of 24 and a full-time student for at least 5 months you can claim them as a “qualifying child” as long as they didn’t supply over half of their own support and meet the citizenship requirements. If they do not meet the age requirement, you may be able to claim them as a “qualifying relative” as long as they didn’t make over $3,700, you provided over half of their own support, and they meet the citizenship test.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis


    • Hi Olga,
      Only if you provided over half of her support and no one else claimed her as a dependent.
      In addition, she has to have an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number if she does not have a social security number.

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  95. Our 20 year old daughter lived with us prior to moving with her husband to another state in November of 2011. They got married a month earlier. Prior to their marriage, we provided her support. They filed a joint tax return for 2011. Can I still claim her as a dependent for the 10 months we supported her?

    • Hi Karen,
      Unfortunately you may not be able to claim your daughter as a dependent child for two reasons:
      1. First it does not look like she is under the age requirement for a “qualifying child”, which is under 19 or under age 24 only if a full-time student for at least five months out of the year.
      2. You cannot claim a child as a dependent if the child and their spouse filed a joint tax return unless they filed only to claim a tax refund.
      See IRS publication 501
      “To meet this test, the child cannot file a joint return for the year.
      Exception. An exception to the joint return test applies if your child and his or her spouse file a joint return only as a claim for refund.”
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      • Hi Lisa, quick question. Sorry to ask you this way but why wasn’t my question answered? I asked a tax question and followed all rules on February 4, 2012 and you never answered but yet the questions after mine were all answered. I am so confused by this. I know my situation is extremely rare but to not answer me and completely ignore my question was not very nice or fair treatment.

  96. Lisa,
    My adopted son was just admitted to a hospital for a year long treatment program. I will still be driving back and forth to visit him and help with his treatment. Will I be able to claim him on my taxes next year?

    • Hi Chelle,
      Yes if he meets the age requirements (under 19 or under age 24 if a full-time student for at least five months) you will be able to claim him as a “qualifying child” if he does not provide over half of his own support. If he does not meet the age requirements you can claim him as a “qualifying relative” as long as you provide over half of his support and he doesn’t make over 3,800 in 2012.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  97. Hey Lisa

    If a relative of mines claimed me their dependent can I still file because I worked in 2011 and also have a dependent {My child}

    • Hi Kay1,
      Yes you should still file if you worked in 2011, however you can’t claim an exemption for yourself on your tax return if someone claimed you.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  98. I’m using tax turbo for my return – but have a question -couldn’t find an answer I was sure of.
    My granddaughter, her husband, & child lived with me the entire yr of 2011. He gets SSI benefits = $650 a month. Does this money count as “money he made” re the can’t have more than $3700 a yr in order to claim?

    • Hi Linda,
      It will only count if it is taxable, which social security typically is not taxable unless he receives other income which causes his income to be taxable.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  99. I claimed my 4 year old neice as a dependent on my taxes. She lived with me through August 30th. The family that has her now says that they should be able to claim her and that I should file an ammended return. Do you have any suggestions?

    • Hi Sabby,
      When claiming a “Qualifying Relative” the test ultimately lies with support. If you provided over half of her support then you would be eligible to claim her.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  100. Lisa,

    My Dad is now receiving SSI but not the full amount since he declared that he lives with me. Can I still claim him as a dependent for taxes?

    • Hi Laine,
      As long as you provided over half of his support, his earned taxable income is not over $3,700, and he meets the citizenship test you can claim him.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    • Hi Bo,
      If you file married filing jointly you will get a personal exemption of $3,700 for your wife.

      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  101. Lisa,

    Thank you so much for your prompt reply. So just to clarify; We can claim her as long as we were financially responsible for her at least 6 months of the year; even though my niece worked from August through December and will claim herself during this time frame?

    We want to make sure we are doing the right thing with the IRS and truly appreciate your continued assistance.

    Thank you,


  102. Lisa,

    My niece lived with my husband and I from October 2009 through June 2011. She was in high school and not working until after she moved out. Based upon what you mentioned on your post from Nov 3, 2011; we could not claim her unless she lived with us into July? Is this correct? She was 17 and turned 18 on April 23, 2011. Your assistance is greatly appreciated!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Tracy,
      That post may have been related to a boyfriend/ girlfriend or a “qualifying child”. In your case a “qualifying relative” such as a niece does not have to live with you the entire year, but you would have to provide over half of her support in 2011.
      She also must be a U.S. citizen, national, resident alien, or a resident of Mexico or Canada.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  103. Hello, I was wondering if my brother can claim me (his sister) along with my husband who is on SSDI and my 2 kids on his 2011 taxes? I am 33 years old and a full time student. He was helping us get on our feet this year.
    Also, how would that affect his taxes/credits if any?
    By the way, he has a wife and children of his own as well. Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Sharon,
      Your brother may be able to claim you as a “qualifying relative” as long as you meet the following tests:
      -Whoever he claims must be a U.S. citizen, national, resident alien, or a resident of Mexico or Canada
      -He must provide over half of your support
      -Who ever he claims cannot earn over $3,700
      -He would not be able to claim any of you if you were required to file a tax return
      TurboTax will guide him through “qualifying dependents” and put the appropriate deductions on his tax return

      He could receive a deduction of $3,700 per dependent that he is eligible to claim.
      Thank you!
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    • Hi Miriam,
      In order to claim children as dependents they must live with the taxpayer more than half the year. Exceptions may apply in certain cases with divorced or separated parents.

      I hope this helps you!

      Thank you,
      Lisa Lewis

      • TurboTaxLisa I have a question about filing taxes this month. 2/3/13 how do I get in contact with you?

  104. I have been on disability since January, and my mother has been taking care of me, i have been living w her….and ect…..Can she claim me on her 2010 taxes?

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