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 (188) Leave your comment

  1. my 22 year old son has his own income full time job doesnt go to school but he lives with us , can I still put him in tax return, we pay all the expenses he just gives me some money for the rent .

  2. So, my mom is about to retired and I want to support her monthly since her paycheck will be less than 500 a month. Can I claim her as a depend so I can get more money to help her finacially and will it affect at the end of the year?

  3. My mom visits from India for 4-5 months every year and I support her when she is back in India, can I claim her as a dependent? She does not have any means of income.

  4. My mother lives with me 24/7. She only receives SSI. I think it’s about $1100-1200/mo. I pay my mortgage/taxes every month which is about $1500/mo. Money she receives go to her minor bills, food, etc. She only pays the electric to help out. Can I claim her as a dependent?

  5. To add onto my previous comment, if I were to claim her as a dependent, would I change my exemptions to 1 or 2? Currently I’m only claiming myself.

  6. So, my mother was laid off last summer. Since then, I’ve provided for her financially. I’m a college student and I work full-time. I live at home with her under housing with a subsided rent of $600 and she gets food stamps for herself. Other than that, I pay all the bills and necessities. Would I be able to claim her as a dependent? She is considered head of household on the housing with myself and my sister. Being that I am 24, I am independent according to my university but my mother takes up a good chunk of my income – Please advice. Thank you

  7. My wifes parents lived with her for the past few years. Both had Residency status and were going for US Citizenship however, due to the harsh weather last year decided to return to their home country at the end of Feb. My wife still sends them close to 85% of their income. I put into TT the 2 months they lived there and checked off that she provided more than half their cost of living. It gave a full 3950 pp deduction which is not what I expected. I would have expected 2/12ths of that. I’m a bit concerned about proceeding with that because it seems wrong. Any advice?

  8. Can I claim my father as a dependent even though he get workers comp payments every month. He doesn’t work due to not having one working arm that he lost at his job in a explosion and he lives with me. Other than his workers comp checks, I’m the one that provides for him.

  9. So, just to clarify my question because it is similar to others. My mom lives with me rent free. She is retired and get social security, but that is it. With that said, does that count as “income” or no? If yes, then I guess I could not claim her, but I don’t think it does. So, if her social security is the only money she gets and I pay for everything else (again, she does not pay rent), then can I claim her next year as a dependent?

  10. If my mother lived with me until June of last year, and I have since been paying her monthly rent(she is on housing so it is only $50 per month) I also send money to her, and pay her phone bills, and she only received $287 a month in general assistance last year. Am I still able to claim her? If so, what type of documentation is needed to do so?

  11. My 84 year old mother moved in with us 1/6/15. She get her monthly SS check $1,105. She pays me $550 a month to help out. She has a provider that Medicaid pays for. Do I claim her?

    1. No. If you’re getting paid, you can’t claim her. She is only your dependent if you are paying over $2k a month for her living expenses.

  12. I claimed a parent as a dependent, and met all the requirements needed, however did not receive the refund into my return. Why is that?

    1. Hi Christopher,
      It could be that someone already claimed them or you had a refund offset for back taxes or outstanding debts like student loans offset from the Treasury department. The IRS should send you a notice explaining the adjustment.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  13. Hi. I am a registered tax professional. I can assure you that whether your parent lives with you or not, if you pay for more than half of all her expenses for the year, you can claim her/or him on your tax return

  14. First time claiming my dad, I meet all the requirements but when I was being processed, it said I needed to be 25 years of age? Why?

  15. 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

  16. 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?

    1. add up her expenses for the year. (mortgage, gas, food, insurance, etc..) take 50% of that. if you paid 50% you can claim her has a dependent. if not, then no.

  17. 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

  18. 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

    1. I’m certainly not a tax expert but I do have experience with SSI. If you are providing more than half of your mother’s support (and could prove it in case of an audit) then it appears as if you can claim her as a dependent as long as other requirements are met. You can check these requirements at the IRS site. You didn’t mention whether or not your mother is receiving the maximum SSI benefit per month. If she is (about $733) and you are paying for most of her needs in terms of food and shelter, then she should not be receiving the full amount of SSI.

      If there are two people in a household, she should be paying her fair share (1/2) of the food and shelter costs.. If she isn’t, then her benefits would be reduced and she might also have to pay back benefits she received in error. She also shouldn’t be receiving money directly from another person.. Apparently there are many people who don’t follow these rules and never get caught. I don’t think claiming her as a dependent would alert the Social Security Dept. as to your arrangement. I guess what you choose to do depends on your tolerance for risk. If you did get audited it would reveal that you are living with your mother, which you are clearly worried about. Again – I’m not a tax expert so do your own research at the IRS and SS sites.

      1. what if i take all the ssi, send parent to a home and pay 100% of that cost. is parent still a dependent?

  19. 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?

  20. 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

      1. The problem is that there is a 3 to 5 year look back period so the government can recoup any money your mother gave you within that time period.

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