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Claiming a Parent as a Dependent

Can I Claim My Elderly Parent as a Dependent?

It isn't just time, but money that most caregivers donate to help maintain the ones they love. When tax time rolls around, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent on your income taxes. This would allow you to get an exemption for him or her.

In order to claim your elderly loved one as a dependent on your taxes, you must meet certain criteria.

Any dependent must meet these tests, according to tax experts at bankrate.com:

  • You (the caregiver) cannot be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer.
  • They must be a resident of the U.S., Canada or Mexico.
  • They cannot file a joint tax return with a spouse.

Relationship

The person who you want to claim as a dependent must be a relative. Relatives who may qualify - but do not have to live with you - include: mother, father, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, father-in-law.

Elder's income

Your loved one's gross income for the year must be less than $3,900. Social Security normally is excludable, but if they have other income, which in many cases means interest and dividends, some is taxable.

Amount of support you provide

You must be providing over half of their financial support for food, housing, medical, transportation, etc.

If the person lives with you, include a reasonable percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other household costs in determining your level of support.

Your parent doesn't have to live with you. When a parent is able to remain in his or her own house, in an assisted living facility or a nursing home, costs you pay for parental support at those locations count toward meeting the IRS requirement. Those who are in an assisted living or long term care facility can qualify as dependents if the income and support levels are met.

Counting medical expenses

Once your parent does meet the IRS dependency tests, you can use any medical expenses you pay for mom or dad toward this itemized deduction.

Since medical costs must exceed 10 percent of your adjusted gross income (7.5 percent if either you or your spouse was born before January 2, 1949) before you can claim them, a parent's added expenses could help you meet the requirements.

Shared caregiving responsibilities

Often more than one family member is involved in the support. The one who is providing more than 50% of the support is entitled to claim the dependent. Be sure everyone is on the same page so you don't run into trouble with more than one person claiming the individual.

If none of you solely pays for half of a parent's support, but each contributes at least 10 percent toward parental care, take a look at the IRS form 2120: Multiple-Support Declaration.

For more information on claiming an elderly relative as a dependent, see IRS Publication 501: Exemptions, Standard Deductions and Filing Information.

When you are unsure about what deductions you are eligible for, it is always best to consult a qualified financial professional for planning and preparing your taxes.

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