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Can I Claim My Parent as a Dependent

Can I Claim My Parent as a Dependent?

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Claiming dependents can help you reduce your tax liability, but there are rules regarding who you can claim.

You may be wondering, “Can I claim my parents as dependents?” While the answer may be yes, it ultimately depends on your circumstances.

Sorting it out on your own can be a bit confusing, so we’ve outlined what you need to know in this guide. Learn more about claiming a parent as a dependent and what you need to know before you file your taxes.

Why might you claim a parent as a dependent?

There are a handful of reasons you may want to claim a parent as a dependent. But before you do that, you and your parent(s) must meet certain criteria to be eligible to claim them as a dependent.

Claiming an elderly parent as a dependent is common for children who act as caregivers. Even if your parents don’t need full-time care, claiming them as a dependent allows you to support your parents while minimizing your financial burden. 

If you pay for care for your elderly parents, you may also be eligible for caretaking tax breaks, so make sure to look into those opportunities as well. Tax credits and exemptions can help you reduce your tax liability.

Asian woman kneeling next to an elderly Asian man in a wheelchair.

Are there rules for claiming your parents as dependents?

There are special tax rules 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 of being a dependent. 

For example, you must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was your parents’ main home for the entire year. If you pay more than half the cost of your parents’ senior living or assisted care facility, that counts as paying more than half the cost of keeping up your parents’ main home.

As with anything tax-related, you’ll 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.

Requirements for claiming your parent as a dependent

The IRS has strict rules about who you can claim as a dependent. We’ll go into more detail below, but here’s a quick overview of the eligibility requirements for your parents to be claimed as dependents:

  • Your parent’s gross income must be less than $4,700 for the calendar year
  • You must pay for at least half of your parent’s support throughout the year
  • Your parent can’t be claimed as a child by another taxpayer
  • Your parent must be a US citizen, US national, US resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
  • You can’t be a dependent of another taxpayer
  • Married parents can’t file a joint return unless they’re only filing to receive an income tax or estimated tax refund
  • If your parent is a foster parent, they need to live with you for the entire calendar year

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 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 on your own tax return if you itemize 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 on your tax return as a dependent. 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 requirements:

  • 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 $4,700 for tax year 2023 (and $5,050 for 2024). This means that if your parent’s income falls into that threshold you aren’t eligible to claim them as a dependent. Non-taxable income such as Social Security does not factor into the calculation of total income for purposes of claiming a parent as a dependent.

More Perks and Requirements

One of the last requirements to claim your parent as a dependent on your tax return is that you can’t 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.

Pros and cons of claiming your parents as dependents 

Before filing your taxes, you should weigh the pros and cons of claiming parents as dependents. Claiming parents as dependents can be a smart choice, but it’s all about your situation.

Pros of claiming your parents as dependents

Claiming a parent as a dependent means you may qualify for certain deductions and credits, which can reduce your taxable income. With the money you save on taxes, you can provide the support your parents need to live happy, healthy lives.

Your parents don’t have to live with you for more than half the year to qualify as a dependent. As long as you pay more than half of the household expenses for your parents, you can claim them as dependents even if they live elsewhere.

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.

Cons of claiming your parents as dependents 

When you claim your parents as dependents, they may not be eligible for certain tax benefits. Your parents may not qualify for assistance programs, including SNAP and utility offsets.

While tax credits and deductions can help you reduce your taxable income, you still have to pay a significant amount in care costs. The tax benefits you receive from claiming your parents as dependents will only partially offset medical expenses and other care costs.

Man looking at a document in deep thought.

How Claiming a Parent Affects Your Filing Status

Before you claim a parent as a dependent on your taxes, you should know how it affects your taxes. Under certain circumstances, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent and file as head of household (HOH).

To file as head of household, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You paid more than half of the home expenses for the calendar year.
  • You weren’t married on the last day of the year.
  • A qualifying person must live with you for at least half the year. Parents don’t have to live with you for half the year, but you must be able to claim them as dependents.

How to claim your parents as dependents

If you’re wondering how to claim a parent as a dependent, the answer is simple. Once you’re sure you and your parent(s) meet all eligibility requirements, you can add them under the “Dependents” section on Form 1040.

You’ll need to provide a first and last name, Social Security number, and relationship to you. You’ll also need to specify whether each dependent qualifies for the Child Tax Credit or the Credit for Other Dependents.

You can review our guide to dependents to learn more about eligibility requirements for dependents.

Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. No matter what moves you made last year, TurboTax will make them count on your taxes. Whether you want to do your taxes yourself or have a TurboTax expert file for you, we’ll make sure you get every dollar you deserve and your biggest possible refund – guaranteed. 

219 responses to “Can I Claim My Parent as a Dependent?”

  1. Hi,
    I have a question: I paid medical expenses for my mom in India in 2021. She is a Indian citizen and housemaker (no income). She tavelled to US once in 2010 on visitor visa. Can I claim her medical expenses (paid in India) in my tax return for 2021? Pls help. Thx.

    • Hi Ravindra,

      Unfortunately, based on the information you provided your mom does not meet the residency requirements to be considered a dependent on your tax return and would not qualify for you to claim the medical expenses you paid for her. Hope this information provides some clarity as you complete your tax return.

      Katharina Reekmans

  2. My 89 father does not live with me but I claim him as a dependent he also gets SSI. Is this OK? Also, he’s recently received an over payment letter if we send in an over payment waive will I get in trouble for claiming him?

  3. my mom is not working for almost 4 yrs now, no source of income. She is living with me and I support all her needs. Can I claim her as my dependent

    • Hi Len,
      Yes, your Mother may qualify under the new “Other Dependent” credit.
      Turbo Tax makes it easy and will ask simple questions to make sure you get
      the dependent credit if you are eligible.
      Thank You,
      Kasey Ortiz

    • Of course you can claim her as dependent, I claim my parents as dependents, they dont work and I fully support them.

  4. Can SSI find that a recipient was claimed as a dependent on a relative tax return, even if her benefits are tax-free?

  5. I claimed my mother in law who is unemployed and has been for over 23 years. How much do I make for her? She is demanding a lot for claiming her but I would like to know how much you roughly get for claiming an unemployed in-law.

  6. Hello,

    Can I claim my parents if they live in their own home which I pay taxes to and I live in my own home. If I can, would I be able to put their home as a deduction as well?

  7. My sister and I equally take care of our parents, Can I claim one and her the other one as a dependent? If they/we meet all the other requirements?

    • Yes that is covered in the article. Since you have to supply more than 51% of a persons assistance is the only requirement, other than being direct family member. So as long as you meet all other requirements then yes. Each of you would get the same tax break, unless there is substantial medical bills that were shared support. You would have to figure that out with your sister.

  8. My son wants to put me as a dependent on his taxes this would be the first year. We live together as of may of 2017 I stopped working I am 63 now I started rec my social security early in December 2017. I did not work in 2018 he pays most of the bills and food and also any other things I need personally.

    • Yes, he can claim you. I’m in the same boat with my mom. I take care of her. She collects Social Security only and I have no issues as that is not taxable income.

  9. My elderly mom lives with me, which I pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance, as well as any upkeep expenses. My mom provide her own utilities and necessities like food, clothing, etc. also she’s on SSI. She is US citizen. Can I claim her on my tax?

  10. My elderly parents live in my home of which I pay the mortgage, taxes and insurance, as well as any upkeep expenses. They provide their own utilities and necessities like food, clothing, etc. They have only social security income and are on medicare and do not file federal taxes. I do not live in my home with them. I share a home with my fiance and we file taxes separately as single. Can I claim my parents as dependents while also claiming my home expenses? Would this be double dipping?

  11. Both my parents live with me in CA and have $0.00 income. They are on Medi-CAL insurance. May I claim them as dependents on my tax returns?

    • Hi Suhas,
      If you provide over half of their support and they meet the citizenship test you should be able to claim them. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the dependent exemptions if you are eligible.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

      • Hi Lisa,

        My parents and in-laws were visited to me for six months each last year with me from outside USA. And they don’t have SSN. So can I include them as dependents in my Tax Returns???

    • Hi,
      In order to claim her as a dependent she must be a US citizen, US national or a resident of the United States, Canada or Mexico during the year. TurboTax will ask you simple questions and give you the tax deductions you are eligible for.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  12. How can I get the ITIN for my fathers in order to quality as dependents? They are mexicans and live there


  13. I am 54 years old i do not work my son live with me can he claim me as a dependent. I have cancer he pays the bills

    • Hi Theresa —

      Yes, your son may be able to claim you as his dependent, as long as both of you meet IRS criteria:

      Relationship: The person lives in your home for the entire year and is considered to be a member of your household. If they don’t live with you, they need to be related to you.
      Income: Generally, their income is less than $4,000 (not including Social Security and welfare).
      Support: Generally, you provide more than half the person’s support.
      Marital status: Generally, a dependent can’t do their taxes with a spouse (married filing jointly). The also can’t be a dependent on someone else’s return.
      Nationality: The person is a United States citizen; or a resident or national of the U.S., Canada or Mexico.

      When you son begins his tax return in TurboTax we’ll ask the appropriate questions so he can determine if he can claim you as his dependent.

      — Joanna

  14. I live with my mom and sister they both receive SSI my sister is totally disabled since she was born. Both of them receive 700 dollars each a month. I help pay the bills and buy the food and items take them to doctors visit, buy medicines. I work and would like to claim both as dependents my sister is totally disabled and she is 52 and they told me she qualifies for the EIC credit can you explain to me what I have to do.

  15. If the requirements state that just being Canadian resident qualifies it, how can they require a social security number if Canada doesn’t use the US SSN. This makes no sense at all …

  16. I take care of my mother yet she lives in a catholic charities home. I shop for her I take her to doctors I handle all her bills I take care of her medications. I take her where she needs to go. she gets SSI and foodstamps. Would I be able to claim her as a dependent?

    • Hi Lyn,
      You can claim your mother if:
      -Your mother is a US Citizen, US National, a resident of Mexico or Canada
      -She does not provide over half of her own support
      -She does not receive more than $4,000 taxable income.
      TurboTax will ask you simple tax questions and help you claim your mother if you are eligible.
      Thank you,
      Lisa Greene-Lewis

  17. 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 .

  18. 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?

  19. 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.

  20. 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?

  21. 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.

  22. 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

  23. 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?

  24. 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.

  25. 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?

  26. 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?

  27. 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?

  28. 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?

    • 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

  29. 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

  30. 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?

  31. 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

  32. 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?

    • 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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’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.

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

  35. 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?

  36. 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!

    • 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

      • 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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