Can You Claim a Parent as a Dependent?

Family

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 (142) Leave your comment

  1. My home has been paid off and I’ve been on disability for years my income is not enough to file income tax from what they say. can my son or daughter use my taxes or other expenses as a deduction and if possible how far back are they allowed to go?

  2. Tax Experts:
    My wife’s parents (she herself is a resident alien) were here earlier this year and met the 183 day prerequisite . They have since gone back to China.
    Mw wife and I file a joint return.
    Am I amble to claim them as dependents? They didn’t earn any monies.

    Thanks,
    Barry

  3. My mom is a Filipino Citizen and has no income at all. She is currently in Philippines but once lived in the US from 1995- 2006 and worked at Jordan from 2011-2014. Is she eligible? and she is 48 years of age

  4. I moved into my mom’s to support her after she was diagnosed with ALZ and dementia. She only collects social security. I never changed my address to her’s can I claim her as a dependent? Also I pay for her to go to an Adult Day Care while I’m at work is that an deductible expense?

  5. Hi, I want to know if and what I need to be able to claim my mother as a dependant. She is a Mexican citizen but I have had her move in with me since August 2014. She is 55 years old and has no income. I am a US resident and I am working on getting my citizenship and saving enough money to be able to request her residency. Please advise. Thanks.

  6. Can i claim my parents as dependents if im the only source of income in the house hod and pay all the bills . Fpl meds and ect. They both do not have income im their only sourse of income

  7. My mother is 93, legally blind and lives with me. I provide her with food, shelter and transportation and other living expenses. She receives SS only. May I claim her as a dependent?

  8. My mom has lived with me for the past 3 years. She does not work but collects retirement monthly. I’m not sure if that is non-taxable or not?? I’ve never thought about claiming her as a dependent on my taxes until today. She doesn’t collect SS. The house is mine, I pay the mortgage, all of the bills and most groceries. Can I claim her? Or would her retirement need to be under the $3,900?

  9. I claim my parents as dependents on my joint return with my wife. They are US residents for 9 years now, ages 82 and 76. They have no income. They do not qualify for medicare or medicaid and don’t have health insurance. I cannot possibly afford to insure them. Will I have to pay a penalty for them or can I gat an exemption.

  10. Hi TurboTaxLisa!

    Someone touched on the joint account issue, but I didn’t see a reply. What cap, if any, is there on what assets the dependent parent is holding? What if it’s a joint savings account with me? The worksheet asks for a beginning of the year and end of the year total for the dependents holdings. Do we list one-half of the savings since it’s half mine?
    Thanks!

  11. My daughter’s grandmother lives with me, with her daughter (my girlfriend), and her granddaughter. I pay for all my girlfriend’s mothers’ support costs, and she is a U.S. citizen who is in this country 10 months per year, making way under $3,900 per year.Can I claim her as a deduction? Meaning, is my daughter’s biological link to her sufficient to fulfill the biological criterion, even though her daughter and I are not married?

  12. I am purchasing a second home in my name for my parents. They are not contributing anything financially for the home. I will also need to make some modifications such as wider doors for wheelchair access and ramp outside to accommodate their needs. Is it better to allow them to live rent free (as planned) or charge them a nominal fee? Plus, am I able to claim my step-father as a dependent (never adopted me) if I cover 51% of his living expenses?
    Thanks!

  13. my friends mom said that social security is taking 110 dollars a month out of here check indefinatly because he claimed her on his taxes as a dependant…. can that be possible ? doesnt make any sence to me i ve been claiming my dad for 12 years never any thing like this

  14. My mom is on SSI *$724.00/month+she gets $85.00 in food stamps. I provide a lot of financial support for her. Since she is on SSI can I claim her as dependent? What are the qualifications for that?

    1. Hi Irina,
      As long as she is a US citizen or national, you provided over half of her support, and she did not make over $3,900 taxable income in 2013, $3,950 in 2014, you should be able to claim her. If she has no other income that would be combined with the social security income increasing the total combined income to $25,000, her social security income should not be taxable.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. Hi Lisa,
        I’ve been supporting my parents 100% since October or November 2013. They will be getting their social security numbers and green cards August of this year (2014). Can I claim them for 2014?
        Thanks in advance.

      2. i have a question If I start recieving payments for ssi in november can my sister file me and my children on her taxes for the year

  15. Hello, If someone could help me with figuring something out for future reference, it would be greatly appreciated. My father SSI, and lives on a fixed income, however, they do not take taxes out of his SS income. But he cares for two of his young grand children in his retirement. So, my question is, that since his income isn’t at the limit in which he has to file taxes, and doesn’t have taxes taken from his monthly payments, can he still file, and get the exemptions for caring for his two grandchildren for 100% of their needs? I’m unsure about it, because they do not take taxes from his monthly SS payments, but he still has dependents supported by that income. Any help in figuring this out would be appreciated. Thanks in advance! :)

    1. Why file? There is no benefit to be had, since no taxes were taken out there will be no tax refund. If there were someone else involved, say a working spouse with earned income, then there would likely be a benefit to filing a tax return.

  16. I care for my parents in India and provide them support for living expenses. Also, we take care of their medical expenses. Can I claim their expenses under mine? They are non-us-citizens and stayed here for 3 months last year. They visit for 6 months every year.

  17. In 2007 I had to move my mom and her mobile home on my property because she has vascular dementia and I needed to watch over her. Now she is in her latter stages and we have a full time caregiver living with her. She pays for her caregiver, utilities, food, clothes and medical expenses out of her SSI. I pay for the increase in my land taxes per year, her rent, I take her shopping, to doctors, etc. at my expense and I take care of all her business like paying her bills with her money. I also will take care of her for free from time to time to give the caregiver a break. Besides SSI she receives a small interest income on her checking account. Can I claim her as a dependent on mine and my husband’s income tax return?

  18. I care for and live with both my parents, however one of my siblings may already be claiming them as dependents. How can I confirm this without asking them directly?

    1. Hi cczoe, if a parent has gross income less than $3,900 (don’t count their social security- unless they filed their own tax return and a portion of the social security was taxable then only count the part not taxed) and you provided more than half of their support (lodging, food, transportation, medical etc.) you can claim them as a dependent on your tax return.

      If you file your return electronically and the parent’s social security number is on a return already filed, your return will be rejected from electronic filing. Then you know if someone has taken them on their return.

      Note: If no one has provided more than 50% of a parent’s total support but two or more persons collectively did, then any contributor who provided more than 10% of support, can claim the parent (gross income rule still applies) – those sharing support must agree which of them will claim the exemption and Form 2120 must be signed by all contributors.

      Hope this answers your question.
      Lee

      Lee

      Note:

  19. I cared for my Mother the past 5 years. The last 2 years she received a benefit from VA for her care which is non-taxable. (aid and attendance). She paid me out of her SSI for taking care of her (she could not get VA if she did not pay a caregiver) and she could not care for herself. I was also her guardian. It is all documented. My question is that since she paid me out of her SSI and I paid over half of what I was paid out to the house bills and insurance, am I able to claim her as a dependent? She did not have any earned income.

  20. My parents live in another country with my brother. I sent some money (51% or more of their support costs) during 2013 and their income is less than $3700. They have been in US just for 25 days during last 4 years. Can I claim them as dependents?

    1. No. They did not meet the residency requirement to qualify as dependents. In addition, your parents should be US citizen or green card holder living in the US.

    2. You can claim a dependent who is a resident of Mexico or Canada. They would then meet the citizenship test for dependency.

      And then you could apply for an ITIN for your dependents. You wouldn’t qualify for the head of household status, but you can claim the exemption. Then they have to live in the U.S. for more than 6 months in order to claim them for head of household as long as you can provide proof that you support them.

      You cannot claim as a dependent a child
      who lives in a foreign country other than Can­
      ada or Mexico, unless the child is a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, or U.S. national.

  21. I live withmy son who provides over 51% of my support. I am a widow and my only income is SS which was $21.310.80 after medicare and prescription insurance, for 2013. Can he claim me as a dependent? Thank you

  22. I moved my parents into my home 1 1/2 years ago due to their frailty. However, my parents own a home which they have been unable to sell or rent. Can I claim them as dependents if I provide more than 50% of their support in my home but do not pay the taxes or maintenance on their other home?

  23. My mother is 87 years old and had her right leg amputated in may of last year. She has also had a stroke. I have had to move her in with me since she can no longer live a lone. She draws a small social security check and a ssi check. Both of them together on make a little over 750 dollars a month. What I need to know is if I claim my mother on my taxes will if affect her medicade. There is no way that I could possible pay for the amount of medication that she has to take.

    1. Hi Martha,
      You claiming your mother as a dependent shouldn’t affect her eligibility for Medicaid. If you claim her you just have to make sure that you provide over half of her support.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. I knew that the medicaid has the family household income limit. If I claim my parent as dependent, will it make her ineligible for medicaid under Obamacare Act as our combined income will surpass the income limit?

  24. I have searched this forum and cannot seem to find an answer to my question. Both I and my husband are disabled and collect disability checks. We also support my daughter and grandson. They live with us. My daughter is 19 yrs old, so her survivor benefits stopped when she stopped going to school. We pay all living expenses including food and baby food for everyone from our SSDI checks alone. My question is can we file IRS taxes, claiming them both, but not taking the earned income credit. Would we be able to get a refund for my daughter and grandson since they live off our disability.

  25. I claim my dad but he is not in the country will that be a problem with the IRS? I am being threated by a family member that they will call the IRS for fraud any suggestions?

  26. I already claim my grandson who lives with us. He is 8, disabled, on Medicaid and receives regular SSI. His father, not married to mother, my daughter, lives with us, too. He has no income, I collect no rent or food money from him. He pays his cellphone bill. He lived here the entire year. Can I claim him and not affect my grandson’s money? His money is straight SSI, not disability. I want to claim the father as he pays no bills, rent or groceries, etc. Thanks.

  27. Both I and my husband are disabled and collect disability checks. We also support my daughter and grandson. My daughter is 19 yrs old, so her survivor benefits stopped when she stopped going to school. We pay all living expenses including food and baby food for everyone from our SSDI checks alone. My question is can we file IRS taxes, claiming them both, but not taking the earned income credit. Would we be able to get a refund for my daughter and grandson off our 1099-SS forms?

    1. Both I and my husband are disabled and collect disability checks. We also support my daughter and grandson. My daughter is 19 yrs old, so her survivor benefits stopped when she stopped going to school. We pay all living expenses including food and baby food for everyone from our SSDI checks alone. My question is can we file IRS taxes, claiming them both, but not taking the earned income credit. Would we be able to get a refund for my daughter and grandson off our 1099-SS forms?

  28. Can a parent be claimed if they live in their own home but do not file income tax return and the support is provided by the child? And does it matter if they receive a tax rebate on their own each year?

  29. Can my fiance claim his mother if she lives in her own home that she owns free and clear? He does support her but she does get a property rebate from the state every year.

  30. I understand the conditions for claiming my 81 year old mother as a dependent, and would qualify to do so. However, I am concerned about unintended consequences. Specifically, if I claim my 81 year old mother as a dependent for tax purposes in 2013, do I obligate my family to take on any other financial responsibility for my mother going forward – e.g., long-term care expenses if such care becomes necessary?

  31. My mother in law worked for the first 3 months on 2013, earning roughly $10,000. We’ve been her sole means of support since April 2013. Can we claim her?

  32. Hi..My mother in law live with me and just got her ssn this year2014..,..I provide everything she need..She doesn’t have any income..Can I claim her as my dependant..Thanks

  33. My mom’s Green card application is under review. She lived with me about 10 months in 2013 and I supported her full. She was able to receive her Work authorizationa and Social sercuity number in reference to her Green card application. Can I claim her as my dependent, even though she is not a Green card holder although she stayed for about 10 months in 2013? Appreciate your quick feedback and clarification.

    1. yes you can you just have had to pay for support and also make sure your mom does not have other sources of income if she does then their are income restrictions but straight ssi you can claim her.

  34. My 38 year old daughter lives in Germany (she is a U.S. citizen residing there.) I support her almost totally. She will not file taxes this year as she has nothing to file. Can I claim her as a dependent?

  35. My son claimed me as a dependent on his taxes. Can I still file? Will he get as much as I would have if I filed? All criteria is met for him to claim me.

  36. My husband and I have my grandmother living with us and we meet all the requirement to claim her. Were using turbotax. When I enter her information it decreases our tax refund by 1000.00. Why would this happen? I’ve reworked the figures multiple times just to make sure I’m not missing anything and it comes out the same every time.

  37. My 89 year old mom lives with me. I know you don’t count her Social Security towards the $3900 per year….but she gets around $500 a month from my dad’s retirement (he’s dead) and some savings accounts and investments she has. These count as income, right?

  38. what do we need to do to claim my mother as my dependent, she does not have a social security number and she only have ssi. I heard of itin#,, but not sure if we need to get one for her, and able to claim her as our dependent in my tax return. thanks

    1. You can apply for ITIN by filling out W-7 form. You need to attach to your income tax return. On your income tax return you would put her name under dependent list but leave the social security part empty and write PARENT under relationship and you figure all of your tax calculation including her. It would be easier if you go and see professional person.

  39. Can I claim both my parents as dependents if they live with me. My mother only receives social security and my dad receives social security and pension from the Texas Retirement System. He is 80 years old and received a 1099R every year since he retired but he has no taxes taken out and has not filed since he retired? I pay all bills and food expenses.

  40. My dad earned almost 17k for 2013, i earned 25k, my mom is not working. Can i claim my mom as a dependent. i support them by paying their house rent

  41. Can i claim my US citizen parents, if they are not residing in US, and i am supporting them in a different country ( not mexico, canada). They have no income and i usually wire them money for rent and other amenities.

  42. I’ve been supporting my in-laws for the past 5 years. They are in their mid to late 60’s, have no social security or savings. Unfortunately, they live overseas. I think it’s so unfair that I cannot claim them as dependents or at least receive some sort of tax deduction for supporting them, especially when it effects my financial situation extremely. I was thinking of creating a petition on Change.org about this situation of having it be required to have your dependents living in the U.S., Canada or Mexico. It doesn’t make sense. Support is SUPPORT. Could you possibly tell me who I can send this petition too?

  43. Is income that my mother receives from disability considered taxable income. I am trying to determine if I can file for my mother as a dependent if she receives dissability in addition to the finacial support that I provide for here living expenses while she is living with me.

  44. Can I claim my mother if she owns her home. No mortgage. I pay for all of utilities, food, medication, taxes. She recieves a death benefit of $13,500 yrly from my fathers death (Social Security). Thats about $1,300 mo.

    1. Hi Yvonne,
      If you provide over half of your mother’s support and she does not earn taxable income over $3,900, which her death benefit should not be if she doesn’t have any other income, then you can claim her. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and help you get the deduction for your mother if you’re eligible.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. I feel something needs to be cleared up. I send my diasabled, U.S. citizen, mother $200/month. She collects about $1600/month in SS. No one else sends her money. I provide 100% of her support but only if support does not count SS benefits… Can I get the deduction?

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