Claiming Parents as Dependents

If you are caring for your mother or father, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent on your income taxes. This would allow you to get an exemption for her or him.

There are five tests to determine if you can claim a parent as a dependent:

  1. The person you are claiming as a dependent must be related to you. This should not be a problem if you are claiming a parent (in-laws are also allowed). Keep in mind that foster parents do not count as a relative. To claim a foster parent, he must live with you for a year as a member of your household.
  2. Your parent must be a citizen or resident of the United States or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
  3. Your parent must not file a joint return. If your parent is married, he must file separately. There is an exception if your parent is filing jointly but has no tax liability. If your parent files a joint tax return solely to get a refund, you can claim him as a dependent.
  4. Your parent must not have a gross income exceeding the allowable exemption amount for that year. Gross income does not include Social Security payments or other tax-exempt income.
  5. You must provide more than half of the support for your parent during the year. Support includes amounts spent to provide food, lodging, clothing, education, medical and dental care, recreation, transportation and similar necessities. Even if you do not pay more than half of your parent’s support for the year, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent if you pay more than 10 percent of your parent’s support for the year, and, with others, collectively contribute to more than half of your parent’s support. To receive the exemption, all those supporting your parent must agree on and sign the applicable Multiple Support Declaration (Form 2021).

If you cannot claim your parent as a dependent because he filed a joint tax return or has a gross income above the limit for that year but you have been paying for your parent’s medical expenses, you may still be able to deduct those expenses from your own taxes.

Consult your estate planning attorney for further information.

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