Taxes: How To Claim Your Parent As A Dependent

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You may be able to claim an elderly single parent as a dependent on your tax return. Furthermore, if you are single and your parent qualifies as your dependent, you may also be eligible to file using the Head of Household (HOH) filing status. The HOH status offers better tax rates than filing for single status. To claim a parent as your dependent and qualifying person for head of household, several tests must be met.

Citizen or Resident Test: Your parent will be eligible to be claimed as your dependent if they are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Mexico or Canada.

Support Test: To qualify as your dependent, you must provide more than half of the support for your parent. Figuring this support is a little complicated. Basically support includes all living expenses, personal expense, medical/dental expenses and so on. Living expenses entail rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, repairs and maintenance to your home and so on. Personal expenses include food, clothing and just about any other outlays for personal subsistence.

So long as you provide more than half of the support for your parent, even if they are not domiciled in your home, you can still claim then as a dependent. For instance, the parent may live alone in their own home, but you may be paying the rent or mortgage and upkeep for their home, or the parent may reside in a home for the elderly or assisted living situation. The key is that you must provide more than half of the parent’s financial support.

(Tax tip: When dependent parents who live with the taxpayer require continual in-home care, a dependent care credit may also be taken.)

Gross Income Test: In order to qualify as your dependent, your parent must have a gross income of less than $3,650. Gross income includes just about any form of income including taxable Social Security benefits. Not included would be disability benefits (including Social Security disability) or tax-free savings but income from stocks, bonds and saving account interest is taxable income.
If you are supporting a parent and the preceding test are met, you can claim them as a dependent on your tax return whether you are married or single. If you are single and you have a parent living with you who meets the dependency test above, you may also be eligible to file your tax return under Head of Household (HOH) status. The HOH status provides adjusted tax rates that are almost as good as those for the married filing joint status.

For more information on claiming a parent as a dependent and filing HOH, check with your tax preparer or get IRS Publication 17, “Your Federal Income Tax.”

Joseph Reisman, of Joseph S. Reisman & Associates, has been serving tax prep and business accounting expertise from his Coney Island Avenue office for more than 25 years. Check out the firm’s website.


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