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The TurboTax Blog > Tax Deductions and Credits > Family > Can I Claim My Parent as a Dependent?

Can I Claim My Parent as a Dependent?

Family mom and son talking about taxes

For that time in a person’s life when he or she begins to take care of their parent, it is important to know that the IRS allows those individuals to claim their parents as dependents on their tax return.

Special tax rule for parents. If your qualifying person is your father or mother, you may be eligible to file as head of household; even if your parent doesn’t live with you. However, your mother or father must meet the qualifications as a dependent. Also, you must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was your parent’s main home for the entire year. If you pay more than half the cost of your parent’s senior living or assisted care facility, that counts as paying more than half the cost of keeping up your parent’s main home.

As with anything tax-related, you will have to meet a few requirements. Once the requirements are satisfied, you’ll be able to receive an additional tax break for your efforts, designed to help offset the costs associated with caring for a parent.

However, don’t worry about knowing the tax rules, TurboTax will ask simple questions about your dependents and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers.

Here are the main reminders for claiming a Parent as a dependent:

  • Is supported (more than 50%) by you
  • Residency and Relationship
  • Earned less than $4,200 of gross (total) income
  • Is not a qualifying dependent of anyone else

Support Means Support

To meet the support requirements necessary to claim your parent as a dependent on your tax return there is a support test. You must cover more than half of your parent’s support costs, meaning 51% or more of their support must be covered by you. These costs include food, housing/lodging expenses, clothing, entertainment, medical services and/or equipment costs. You are also allowed to include your dependent parent’s medical expenses, if you itemized, when calculating your medical deductions.

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 2120) if you also supported your parent and you want to claim them. A Multiple Support Declaration (Form 2120) is a signed statement from each eligible person, waiving his or her right to claim the parent as a dependent.

Residency and Relationship

The technical term 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, 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 with your spouse). Your parent, in-law, grandparent, or other relative does not have to live with you all year like a non-relative.

And guess what? The IRS has residency requirements as well. To meet the residency requirement, the person you are caring for must meet one of the following:

  • Be a legal US Citizen
  • Be a U.S. National
  • Be a U.S. Resident Alien
  • Be a Resident of Canada or Mexico

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 individual tax identification number (ITIN). Either of these numbers will satisfy the identification requirement for the IRS. Also, the parent you are claiming cannot file a joint tax return.

To be allowed to claim your parent as a dependent, your parent’s taxable income must be less than $4,200 for tax year 2019. This means that if your parent earns $4,200 or more, you aren’t eligible to claim them as a dependent. Non-taxable income, such as Social Security, does not count as their income for the requirement.

More Perks and Requirements

One of the last requirements to claim your parent as a dependent on your tax return is that you cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s tax return or eligible as a dependent (even without being claimed) if you plan to claim your parent as a dependent.

Once you have met all of the requirements, you could be eligible for the new “Other Dependent Credit”, worth $500 on your return. More good news! You may also be able to claim the ‘Dependent Care Credit” if your parent needs assistance while you are at work or away.

Don’t worry about knowing the tax laws. TurboTax will ask simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you’re eligible for based on your answers. If you have questions, you can connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent to get your tax questions answered. TurboTax Live CPAs and Enrolled Agents are available in English and Spanish, year round and can even review, sign, and file your tax return.

 

Comments (217) Leave your comment

  1. I’m 75, retired. worked in US for 11 yrs, received SS $613/mo ($405 for myself and $208 for my wife). my wife is 76, did not work here in US,live in OR state, she’s disabled due to stroke. we both live with our daughter and son-in-law for 11 yrs. can they or our daughter and soninlaw claim us as they’re dependents?

  2. How come only Canadian & Mexican parents only? Doesn’t this discriminate against other US citizens who are not from Canada or Mexico?

  3. My mother lives with me. She receives a pension in which medical is taken out. Would I have to use the total gross amount or can I use the net amount after medical is taken out.

  4. Both my parents began living with me and my wife in mid-2013. My fathers retirement is in excess of the $3800 and is in his name only. They have previously filed joint tax returns. Can I file a tax return for him as married filing separately and then claim my mother as a dependent on our tax return? We provide over 50% of their support. Would not do this if it were to cause him to pay more tax. They have not had a tax liability for several years. They are both 85+ years old.

  5. Hi, my mom is on disability, I am her trusty listed at ss disability. I live in Texas and she lives in Georgia. I receive her disability on a card they sent me, wick is$1400.0 per month. I pay all of her other expense from a business account my brother and I own in Georgia. My mom owned the business before she got sick. My brother and I kept it going. Can I claim her on my taxes as a dependant even if she doesn’t live with me or him. We pay her sister to check on her during the year.

  6. My mom lives with us and has social security benefits around $11,000 and about a $1000 a year retirement benefit – This is less than the $3900 – I pay the mortgage and utilities so I should be able to claim her. My question is if the irs doesn’t count the social security then it looks like I would only have to provide $1001 support on her to be more than 1/2 of her support for the year. Is this correct?

    1. No, it does not work like that – She has a total annual revenue of $11,000 + $1,000 so $12,000 – It depends on where this $12,000 goes, regardless of source. If $6,000 goes towards the support categories above (Food, housing or lodging expenses, clothing, and medical services and/or equipment costs) then you would have to provide $6,001 or more. If only $1,000 is spent by her towards those categories, then you would have to provide $1,001 or more. Seeing as you pay the mortgage and utilities, you should be set anyway.

  7. Hi, I am about to finalized my 2013 tax filing. But I want some clarification.
    My Mom is living with me, no income so I am claiming her as my dependent on my 2013 tax return. She is married to my Dad but they are not living together because my Dad lives outside the country. What should I put when TurboTax ask me if she’s married or single?
    Thanks!

  8. Hi,
    My father lives with me and made about $3800 in 2013. He started receiving ss about $211 dollars since August 2013. He lives with me I pay all the bills except for his medication. I would like to know if I can claim him as my dependent. He is afraid that if I claim him as my dependent he will loose his retirement. He already filed his income tax for 2013.

  9. My Grandmother lived with my parents for the year 2013. They provided housing, food, care and transportation for her. She receives SS and she has a Railroad Pension-she is a widow. Her pension has two tiers that add up to about $14,000 I believe. When we went to see if he was eligible to add her as a dependent it said that her income could not be more than $3900 a year-do you use a formula to figure out taxable income to determine if she made more that $3900 or do you use the amount from the pension form she received in the mail?

  10. Goodmorning, I haven’t worked in seven years and I live with my daughter she pays all my bills buy my medicine, and personal things Ian 43 years old, can she claim me on her taxes this year

    1. Hi Angela,
      If your daughter provided over half of your support, you did not earn more than $3,900, and you meet the citizen requirements, then yes she can claim you. TurboTax will ask her simple questions and give her the tax deductions she’s eligible for.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  11. I can claim my mother as a dependent for 2013, she did not make over $3,900, not married, lives with me in Nevada, I supply more than 51% of living expenses, etc. Now my question is if I do claim her as a dependent, will I be responsible for her health care/insurance that she must get by March 2014? Currently, she has no health care/insurance.

    1. Hi,
      If you provided over the half the support for both of your parents and they did not earn over $3,900 each then you may claim them as long as they were US citizens, US Nationals, US resident aliens, or residents of Canada or Mexico.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  12. My mother has not made more than the allowable income for me to claim her as a dependent. However, she sold her house and made a profit from the sell. Would that be considered taxable income? Will I still be able to claim her as a dependent?

    1. Hi Mickey,
      If you sell your personal residence you can sell your home with a gain of $250,000 if your single and $500,000 for married filing jointly without paying taxes on it. Most taxpayers don’t have gains this large so she probably won’t have taxable income. If you provided over half of her support and she meets the other test then you should be able to claim her.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. My father was a us resident alien and he retired in MX. He is 76. he gets his SS check down there, but it is not enough for living. I send him money from USA. Can I claim him as my dependent??

  13. Good afternoon, my mom lives in Mexico and I send her $400 dlls every month for food and bill expenses. Can I claim her as dependant? She is 64 years old. Thanks 🙂

  14. my mom was in a auto accident in april of 2012 and has not been able to work since. I have been her main support. but in 2012 she made more then 11k in the first 4 months of the year but has made nothing since. can I claim her as a dependent

    1. Hi Steven,
      If you provided over half of her support in 2013 and she didn’t make over $3,900 you can claim her on your 2013 taxes.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    2. Steven, there also is a worksheet for determining dependency support which can be downloaded from the IRS.GOV website. Fill it out accordingly and if you qualify great, but if not, then I would not even try to claim her as a dependent.

      1. Hi Lydia and Steven,
        TurboTax will as you simple questions about you and your dependents and give you all of the credits and deductions you’re eligible for no worksheets necessary.
        Thank you,
        Lisa Greene-Lewis

  15. My father passed away in Feb. 2013. He was my dependent and I had previously claimed him in my past tax returns. Can I still claim him on my taxes for 2013?

  16. My mother has lived with me rent free since April 2013. I have already determined that she is under the income limit so that I can claim her. Even though she didn’t move in at the beginning of 2013 and didn’t technically live with me for the entire year will I still be able to claim her?

    1. Yes you can claim her. A parent is the only individual that doesn’t have to live with you to claim them. But you must provide more than half their support.

  17. my daughter and I live together and share all expenses including rent half and half, canshe claim me as a dependent, I receive social security.

  18. If my father owes IRS for 2011 but has a hold on it because he is not receiving any income and I have supported him in 2013 if I claim him will I have to pay the IRS what he owes,

    Thanks

    1. It will be taken out of your refund and if he is in social security they can even deduct the back child support from his social security check

    2. My mother received in 2013 $ 4, 616 from SSI on a monthly basis. I cover for utilities can give her money for other expenses. Can I claim her as Dependent?

  19. My mom lives with me — her ONLY source of income in her SOCIAL SECURITY which is less than $7,500 per year — she is 68 years old and I am her primary source of income as I pay for everything — including any out of pocket costs for medicine, mortgage, etc.,
    Am I able to claim her as a dependent?
    In addition we do have a join mutual fund — but I would assume that this is not considered income.
    I will be attempting to do my taxes myself this year via turbo tax and I want to make sure I have all the necessary info — as you can see by my questions — I am not a genius when it comes to this stuff — HELP!!!!

  20. Can I claim my older son as a dependent? He started receiving SSI last year for his disability. He can’t work and I am his part time caregiver. I have to work outside the home to support us. I do receive most of my deductions back due to a huge business loss my husband and I had. However I lost my husband in 2012 to illness and I am 58 and not old enough to get spousal support on my husbands social security.

  21. I claimed my mother as a dependent in my tax returns when she was a resident alien as her income was less than $200 per month. Now she is a US citizen and otherwise medically eligible for disability (SSI). Will my previous claim as my dependent make her ineligible for SSI at this time?

  22. Hi! My mother lived with me for 7 months. She has a green card and social security number. She went back to the Philippines for some treatments and will live with me again when she gets back in March. Can I claim her on my tax return? She didn’t work at all. And also, what proof of support do I have turn in? Thank you!

  23. My mother lives with me and my husband and our son, She dont work…she cant she is sick. She gets SS off my dad, I pay for every thing food and all. She just pays for her meds and her car note. So we want to no can we take her on our tax…She has been with us two years now.

  24. My mom is retired and collects Social Securtiy and lives in a house that I own, would i be able to use her on my taxes as a dependent?
    Since I cover her lodging.

  25. My mother lives with me, she receives SSI, am I able to claim her as a dependent? I am unclear with what is considered earned income. No taxes are taken out of the monthly SSI. Please advise?

    1. As long as you can show u provide more than half her support and are single. And its considered income in determining the amount of support she provides for herself.

  26. my father in-law lost his job and me and my wife has been supporting them for a year now we pay for everything they and we need can we claim them as a dependent?

  27. Can I claim both of my parents this year 2013 ? But I did not change the w4 form for # of dependents on my 2013 form last year
    Wi I still be ok to claim my parents as my dependents? Thank u

  28. Can I file my mom on my taxes even though she receives Social Security and Disability Income but she lives with me and I provide over half of her support

  29. My mother had a massive stroke which left her partially paralyzed. I moved her in withy self and my husband. I quit my job to take care of her. The only income she has is ssi.
    When my husband does our taxes, will we be able to claim mother?
    Thanks for your help.

    1. Hi Merlinda,
      You will be able to claim your mother as long as you provided over half of her support and she did not earn morw than $3,900 taxable income.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

    1. Hi Lisa,
      You can only receive EITC for your qualifying dependent children and not your father. You can receive a dependency exemption for him if you provided over half of his support and he didn’t make over $3,900 taxable income, but not Earned Income Tax Credit.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      1. So I am getting this dependency exemption that amounts to nothing? My mother qualifies 66 and disabled lived with me all year and no she has no earned income…shoot I even put my 24 yr old daughter that is in school full time and STILL no change in refund from 0

      2. Lisa,

        I have already filed yet want to be sure that I did nothing wrong with the IRS. I have claimed my mother as a dependent for the first time. She lives with me and I am head of household.
        She has not worked for quite some time and has no other form of income. She only gets her SS Check each month. Was there a form that I should have added proving she receives social security? Any info would be most appreciated.

  30. I received unemployment for the 2013 year which adds up to around 12K for the year. My son (who lives with me) helped me out with rent, food, bills etc… Can he claim ME on HIS taxes?

  31. My mother lived with me jan 2013-september 2013 I provided housing/food for her. She paid 465.00 a month but I believe we paid more than half her expenses. My question is can I claim her? Yes she is a US citizen…I want to know if I can claim her would I have to provide any proof that I paid her food/rent?? I would assume no because who keeps receipts for groceries? I have proof I paid rent and that she lived with me though.

  32. HI
    My mom live in turkey and she cant not work because she is sick she has a hard problem and she has a heard surgery i been paying her house close food medical everything she needs but she is not US citizen and live in Turkey, i send money every month, can i clam her as dependent?

  33. My mom receives Social Security Disability every month ($800 USC). Social Security Disability is her only income, can I claim her in my taxes?

  34. I have a mother that lives with me and has not had any sort of income in the last year. Can I claim her as a dependent and if so what kind of estimate amount would I get back for her?

  35. I am a Tax Preparer and this area is always confusing to me in regards to gross income and the supporting the person for more than half of their support! I know a client who received $3,850 from his pension. Amazing huh, it is just $50 over! The son and spouse made over $100,000 so definitely pays for more than half of their Dad’s support. So, reading the info above, the Son cannot claim his Dad because of the $50 from the pension. However, the pension is NOT earned income! Please advise!

    1. The limit was raised to $3,900 for 2013, so the son should be able to claim his Dad on his 2013 tax return.

      Note however that the phrase “earned income” in the article is misleading. All taxable income has to be counted, so if the Dad’s pension income in 2013 was $3,900 or more he would not qualify (unless the pension is for some reason tax exempt).

      Here’s the relevant section from IRS Publication 17, page 33:

      Gross Income Test
      To meet this test, a person’s gross income for the year must be less than $3,900.

      Gross income defined. Gross income is all income in the form of money, property, and services that is not exempt from tax.

      1. Earned income defined. Earned income is salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and other amounts received as pay for work you actually perform.
        Publication 501 (2013) IRS.Gov webpage

        Janet – you should probably do some research on the irs.gov page before making any big decisions or call the irs hotline. I am sure they will be more accurate in providing you with the information.

      2. That is a correct definition of earned income. But the point is that it’s not just earned income that counts toward the $3,900 threshhold. The term the IRS uses for this test is the “gross income test”. Gross income includes all income that’s not specifically exempt from income tax. That includes income from pensions, annuities, interest, dividends, etc. It generally does not include social security benefits, unless those benefits are taxable.

        I agree that it’s always best to refer to IRS documents to confirm any tax-related information found on this (or any other) web site. As I mentioned previously, the gross income test is explained on page 33 of IRS Publication 17 (Tax Guide for Individuals). It can also be found on pages 19-20 of Publication 501 (Exemptions, Standard Deduction, & Filing Information).

  36. I have two questions: First, where can I find information on how to keep records when claiming a parent as a dependent? Second, being very elderly, she no longer has a copy of her birth certificate, but she has a certificate saying the courthouse where the original was kept cannot find it. Is her SSN enough identification?

  37. My mother in law receives alimony. Will this be considered earned income and if so does it have to be under the $3800 limit for us to be able to claim her as a dependent?

  38. In 2012 tax filing, I claimed my 75 year old mother as my dependent (she received her green card in June 2012). Then in January 2013, she went back to her home country and she will probably come back to US in 2014.

    My question is, can I still claim her as my dependent for this coming 2013 tax filing considering that she’s currently leaving abroad? I still continue to send her money for her food, housing, and medical expenses.

  39. I have a friend who has title to her house with no mortgage and she owns her deceased husbands 401k. She is 51 years old and her two adult children are providing the means for her support including the taxes and utilities on the home. Her husband died of cancer at a young age and she stayed at home and raised all three children on SS payments to the children. The last child has aged out and SS will stop. Both of the adult children live at the home and have professional careers. The teenager (who aged out) lives at the home as well. The 51 year old Mother is also taking care of her two elderly parents at the home. They need to get their Mother health insurance through their employers. Can she be declared a dependent by her adult children? Would the adult children be able to include her in their work health insurance plans? Thank you in advance for your consideration. Dan Z

  40. “Our daughter failed to provide her 2011 1098-T to be claim on our 2011 tax return. What procedure and forms are required for an amendment of our 2011 tax return?”

    1. You would have to amend your return, file a 1040-X and just include the 1098-T, which will give you an education credit.

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