Can You Claim a Parent as a Dependent?


For that time in a person’s life when he or she begins to take care of their parent, its important to know that the IRS allows those individuals to claim their parents as dependents on their tax return.

Multi Generation African American Family Relaxing In Park

As is the case with anything tax-related, you’ll have to meet the requirements; and once those requirements are satisfied, you’ll be able to receive an additional tax break for your efforts that was designed to help offset the costs associated with caring for a parent.

Support Means Support

To meet the support requirements necessary to claim your parent as a dependent on your tax return, you must cover more than half of your parent’s support costs – meaning 51% or more of their support costs must be covered by you.

These costs include food, housing or lodging expenses, clothing, and medical services and/or equipment costs.

If support for your parent was given by a group of individuals or family members, you may want to sign a Multiple Support Declaration form which would allow a single person in the group to claim your parent as a dependent, thus giving the tax break to a single person.

Residency and Relationship

The technical term that the IRS uses to meet the relationship requirement for these tax and life situations is “Qualifying Relative”. This means that the person you’re caring for can be your parent, an in-law, or even a grandparent.

However, they must be related to you biologically, by adoption, or through marriage (which would technically be a biological relationship through your spouse).

And guess what?  The IRS has residency requirements as well. To meet the resident requirement, the person you are caring for must meet one of the following:

  • Be a legal US Citizen
  • Be a US National
  • Be a US Resident Alien
  • Be a Resident of Canada or Mexico

For foreign, non-US-citizen parents to achieve official US resident status, they must be a recipient of a Green Card issued by the US government or have lived in the US for 183 days during the past tax year.

Social Security and Gross Income

The parent you want to claim as a dependent on your tax return must have a social security number (SSN) or an individua tax identification number (ITIN). Either of these numbers will satisfy the identification requirement for the IRS.

To be allowed to claim your parent as a dependent, your parent’s earned income cannot be more than$3,900 for the 2013 tax year. This means that if your parent earns more than $3,900, you aren’t eligible to claim them as a dependent. Non-taxable income, such as Social Security, does not count toward this amount.

Also, the parent you’re claiming as a dependent cannot file a joint tax return.

More Perks and Requirements

One of the last requirements that needs to be stated is that, if you want to claim your parent as a dependent on your tax return, you yourself cannot be eligible as a dependent on someone else’s tax return. Again, you cannot be claimed as a dependent or eligible as a dependent (even without being claimed) if you plan to claim your parent as a dependent.

Once all of the requirements are met, you’ll be happy to receive an additional $3,800 tax exemption on your return.

You are also allowed to include your parent’s medical expenses when calculating your medical deductions, and you may also be able to claim the Dependent Care Credit if your parent needs assistance while you’re at work or away.

When you answer a few simple questions, TurboTax will figure out whether you are eligible to claim a relative as a dependent.  If you still have questions, you can talk to a TurboTax tax expert while you prepare your tax return.

Comments (159) Leave your comment

  1. Can my son claim me on his taxes if I get disability and it won’t hurt my disability since he lives with me and pays more then half the exspenses

  2. My mother is 76 yrs old. She has COPD and other medical problems and has been unable to work for a few years and cannot drive. She draws Social Security. She has a mortgage and her personal bills (insurance etc.) that she pays. I live with her and pay the electric, water, food, take her to her doctor appointments and I pay for the upkeep on her home (In 2014 I paid over 7000.00 to have her bathroom remodeled as the floor had rotten out). Am I able to get the deduction?

  3. If my mom is on ssi but welfare doesnt know I live with her can she lose her ssi if I claim her on my taxes for the last three years I need the money to move forward in life but I dont want to take her ssi

  4. If my mom is on ssi but welfare doesnt know I live with her can she lose her ssi if I claim her on my taxes for the last three years

  5. My parents live with us, they are both retired. They are US immigrants but have never worked here. They refuse to apply for health insurance unless the government provides . Are we going to be taxed if we include them as dependents under the obacare law?

  6. My mother moved to NM in Oct. 2014 to live with my brother. Two monhs later she had a massive stroke and is now in a nursing home. My brother has been withdrawing and presumably spending her social security checks that are deposited into her checking account each month because he has her check card and pin number. Is that allowed? He says the money shouldn’t be there once her Medicaid kicks in because once that happens *they get all her money* is that true? I think he’ll also be claiming her as a Dependent when he files his income taxes in 2015. Is mom living with him two months long enough for him to do that? She’s not really dependent on him now though he makes all medical decisions for her. He’s more dependent on her because he’s spending her money. I just want mom’s money to be deposited into an account that he can’t touch. She has credit card debt (less than $2000) That he’s made a couple of minimum payments on since this happened. But no savings. She is poor, and has only the SS checks as her income.

    I feel like my hands are completely tied. Help!

    1. it is true they will keep all of her checks and take whatever she has in the bank. i recommend you take her money and put it in your bank account

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