The New Rules for Claiming Your Boyfriend or Girlfriend on Your Taxes

Learn IRS rules about claiming dependents.

When you’re involved in a domestic partnership — that is, living with someone you’re not married to — you might wonder if there are any tax credits or tax deductions you can take advantage of, such as claiming your boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent. Claiming someone as a dependent on your taxes can result in a tax credit, but that person must pass a qualifying relative test before you include him on your tax return.

This April, make sure you’re in the know about whether you can claim someone as a dependent. Here are the facts about claiming a qualifying relative on your taxes.

Benefits of Claiming a Dependent

Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, you can no longer claim a personal exemption deduction for yourself, your spouse or dependents, according to the IRS. That means you can no longer use a dependent as a way to knock off money from your taxable income in preparation for your tax returns. But under the child tax credit, you can receive up to $500 in tax credit for each qualifying dependent who is not a child. For dependents who are children, however, you can now receive up to $2,000 in child tax credit.

Can I Claim My Girlfriend or Boyfriend as a Dependent?

The IRS has a strict set of rules regarding whom you can claim your partner as a dependent. You’ll need to provide the IRS with information about your relationship to this person, the amount of support you provide and other details. IRS rules for dependency are applicable only to qualifying children or qualifying relatives, so if your boyfriend or girlfriend can’t pass all of the following qualifying relative test questions, you will not be able to make the dependent claim on your taxes.

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When You Can Claim a Dependent

You can claim your significant other as a dependent on your taxes if your situation meets the following requirements:

1. You’re Living Together

To pass the dependency test, your girlfriend or boyfriend has to be living with you for at least one calendar year to be considered a dependent. When you live in a state that prohibits cohabitation, you will not be able to claim your unmarried partner as a dependent.

2. You Provide More Than 50% Support

When you’re paying for more than half of your partner’s living expenses, medical care, education and any other expenses, you might be able to claim them as a dependent. Keep track of all the expenses you’re taking care of over the course of the year so you can prove that you’re supporting them. For example, keep documentation like medical bills and receipts for rent or mortgage payments.

3. They Earned Less Than $4,050

Your partner can’t have earned more than $4,050 in gross income during a calendar year if you want to claim them as a dependent. In the event that your partner earned some money from a part-time job or had steady income they reported on their tax return, they’re basically proving that they were able to take care of themselves financially. This means you won’t be able to claim them as a dependent, even if they’re living with you and you’re paying their bills.

Related: Taxable Income You Must Report to Avoid an IRS Audit

When You Can’t Claim a Dependent

On the other hand, even if your significant other meets the above requirements, there are some situations that would not allow you to claim them as a dependent. You won’t be able to claim your boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent if any of the following are true:

1. Someone Else Is Claiming Them

When your partner’s parent, aunt, uncle or any other family member is claiming them as a dependent on their tax return, you won’t be eligible to claim them as a dependent. The IRS will only allow a single taxpayer who can prove that the individual is a dependent in the household.

2. They’re Not a Citizen or Resident

You cannot claim your partner as a dependent if they aren’t a U.S. citizen, resident or national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico. When your significant other is in the U.S. on a temporary visa stay and is applying for residency or citizenship, you’ll need to wait until their status changes before you can claim them as a dependent on your tax return.

No matter how long you’ve been with your partner or how much you’re supporting them financially, you can’t claim them as a dependent unless your partner passes the qualifying relative test. Take a close look at the qualifiers to determine whether you’re eligible to get a tax credit, which might significantly reduce your tax burden.

Click here to read about how this parent teaches their kids about taxes.

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Taylor Bell contributed to the reporting for this article.

About the Author

Sabah Karimi is an award-winning writer with more than 10 years of experience writing about personal finance, lifestyle topics, and consumer trends. Her work has appeared on U.S. News & World Report, Business Insider, Yahoo!, AOL Daily Finance, MSN, and other mainstream publications. She was interviewed by The Wall Street Journal and CBS News about her work as a freelance writer early in her career and now works with a variety of clients.