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.