Can I Claim My Girlfriend or Boyfriend as a Dependent?

Tax Deductions and Credits

The article below is accurate for your 2017 taxes, the one that you file this year by the April 2018 deadline, including a few retroactive changes due to the passing of tax reform. Some tax information below will change next year for your 2018 taxes, but won’t impact you this year. Learn more about tax reform here.

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 per dependent for 2017.

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 him or her, 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 2017
  • 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. If you still have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered from the comfort of your couch. A TurboTax Live expert can even review, sign and file your tax return for added confidence.

Comments (15) Leave your comment

  1. Can I claim my girlfriend even though she only made $4,900. we also have a daughter. I need to know if we can file taxes together.

    1. Hi John,
      Unfortunately your girlfriend could not make more than $4,050 for 2016 in order to claim her. You may be able to claim your daughter as long as she didn’t provide over half of her own support, must live with you more than half the year, and no one else can claim her. TurboTax will ask you simple questions about your dependents and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  2. Hi my boyfriend owes back taxes and has not had a job in 3 years due to a serious medical condition.If I claim him as a dependent on my taxes can they take part of my return to satisfy his tax debt? Thanks so much !!! Besides this he “passes” the test for the deduction.

  3. My boyfriend has lived with me for over 3 + years and hasn’t worked in quite some time. Would I be able to claim him as a dependent?

  4. I had a job from Dec 02 2025 and they let me go Jan 7 2016. This is my first job and first time worrying about taxes. Can my boyfriend put me as a dependent even though I had a job? And if he is able to, do I still need to do taxes? Sorry, I’m new to this.

    1. Hi Darlene,
      Your boyfriend may be able to claim you if:
      – You lived with him the entire year
      – You did not earn more than $4,000
      – You did not provide over half of your own support.

      If these tests are met then your boyfriend may be able to claim you. You will need to file your taxes if you made over $10,300, but if he does claim you, you will not be able to take the dependent exemption. TurboTax will walk you through filing your taxes.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. Hi my boyfriend and I live together and he “passes” the test for me to claim him as a dependent, but because of a serious injury he has not worked in 3 years and has an outstanding tax debt ( less than 10k ) if I claim him as a dependent can the IRS garnish my tax return to satisfy his debt? Thank you so much!!

  5. My son works a part time job and wants to file his own taxes this year (hes 18 years old) can I still claim him as I provided more than half of his support. If not, how do I claim his wages?

    1. Hi,
      You would not be able to claim him if he files and takes his personal exemption of $4,000. If he doesn’t take his personal exemption and files his taxes you can still claim him as a dependent. You would just need to confirm whether or not you are going to claim him, because only one of you can take the exemption. Once you decide, TurboTax will help you get the deductions and credits you are eligible for.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  6. I would like to point out how hard it is to do this. I have been a stay at home mom to our youngest son since he was born three years ago. The first year I didn’t have income to claim we tried claiming me as a dependent since we have been living together for years and at that point he was supporting me. Instead we got auditted. It was a mess. They even tried to say he didn’t have the right to claim our kids. They said we had to prove he supported us that year by providing grocery reciepts, rent receits, and medical statements. It took us over a year to get those returns and he still couldn’t claim me because I didn’t have any of those things. It took appealing three times just to be able to claim the kids. So despite the fact that I am his dependent we will never do that again.

  7. If your boyfriend or girlfriend meets these requirements and you can claim them as a dependent, then can you claim head of household?

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