Are you living with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Have you ever wondered whether or not you could claim him or her on your tax return as a dependent? Like many things in life, it depends. Even if it feels like an awkward thing to wonder, it’s worth the ask: each dependent lets you claim a dependent exemption, reducing your taxable income by $4,050 for 2016.
A boyfriend or girlfriend can be claimed as a dependent if they pass some of the same tests used to determine if your child or relative can be claimed as a dependent.
First, your significant other cannot be claimed as a dependent if they are eligible to be claimed as a dependent on another tax return. Whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is being claimed is irrelevant, it’s the eligibility that matters. Once you see the rules, especially the residency and support rules, this will make perfect sense. So, if your significant other’s parents could claim them, you cannot. Your significant other also must be a U.S. citizen, resident alien, national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
That’s the first phase of tests.
If he or she passes those rules, these four “tests” will need to be passed to qualify as a dependent. He or she:
- Is not a “qualifying child” of a taxpayer. The IRS has specific qualifying child rules based on relationship, age, residency, and joint return
- Earned less than $4,050 in taxable income (amount of the personal exemption) in 2016
- Did not provide their own support. You must provide more than half of the total support for the year
- Lived with you all year as a member of your household (keep in mind: dependent relatives do not have to live with you)
As you can see, the tests make it impossible for someone to be claimed as a dependent on two returns. Either you provided their support or someone else did.
If you and your significant other are living together and considering this route, there are also other ways you can save a lot of money by integrating your finances, without having to get married. For example, you could combine auto insurance policies for a multi-car discount. It might not be as romantic as getting married, but it could result in big savings over the course of a year!
Don’t worry about knowing these tax laws. TurboTax makes it easy to claim the dependent exemption by asking simple questions about your life and giving you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers.