Can I Claim My Boyfriend or Girlfriend on My 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 lower your taxable income, 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 on claiming a qualifying relative on your tax return.

Benefits of Claiming a Dependent

Claiming someone as a dependent on your taxes tells the IRS that you provide support to this individual in some way that allows you to claim a dependency exemption. In a situation where some of your income is going toward paying for this individual’s housing, food, clothes and other costs, you might be eligible for a tax break. For tax year 2017, you can reduce your taxable income by $4,050 for every qualified dependent you claim — so finding out if you can claim someone is worth your while.

Can I Claim My Girlfriend or Boyfriend as a Dependent?

The IRS has a strict set of rules regarding whom you can claim 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 a dependency exemption 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.

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 him 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 him. For example, keep documentation like medical bills and receipts for rent or mortgage payments.

3. He 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 him as a dependent. In the event that your partner earned some money from a part-time job or had steady income he reported on his tax return, he’s basically proving that he was able to take care of himself financially. This means you won’t be able to claim a dependency exemption for him, even if he’s living with you and you’re paying his bills.

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 him 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 Him

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

2. He’s Not a Citizen or Resident

You cannot claim your partner as a dependent if he isn’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 his status changes before you can claim him as a dependent on your tax return.

Claiming a Dependent vs. Claiming the Dependent Care Credit

The dependent care credit is different from claiming a dependent, although you might be able to do both. You can claim the dependent care credit for up to $3,000 of expenses toward the care of someone who lived with you for more than half of the year and who was physically or mentally incapable of self-care.

Find Out: 10 Commonly Missed Tax Deductions

No matter how long you’ve been with your partner or how much you’re supporting him financially, you can’t claim a dependency exemption on your tax return unless your partner passes the qualifying relative test. Take a close look at the qualifiers to determine whether you’re eligible to claim this exemption, which might significantly reduce your tax burden.

  • southgapeach

    I using the H&R block online tax prep to do my taxes and it keeps saying that he doesn’t qualify. Guess I need to get a little more help with it this year because I feel positive he should qualify. He earned NO income, lived with me the entire year; I provided all expenses for him and even kept his son during the summer months!! I even helped him with some of his child support payments! The good news is he finally got his GED and is now picking up some odd construction jobs this year…it’s not much, but it’s a start:)

    • brokejoke

      Sounds like a winner

      • If the roles were reversed and a man was talking about a woman you wouldn’t have made that comment.

        • ShaZAM

          If the roles were reversed, he’d be making 33 cents more an hour than her for doing the same job.

          Do you REALLY want to go down that road?

  • where do you enter them and what to you enter them as, if I chose them as a dependant there is no option “Qualifying Relative” only son, daughter, neice, nefew, etc and “other” which adds nothing no $3700.. so how and what form should I chose since we meet all the test requirements.

    • Jennifer Calonia

      Hi Mike, I recommend speaking with a tax preparer to ensure that you claim your qualifying relative in the appropriate place on your tax forms.

    • Emily yates


  • Nicolas

    Are the the proceeds from the Sale of stocks included as gross income or only the difference (gain or loss) between the proceeds and the purchase price of the stocks?

  • Just wondering

    Is The Social Security Number Of The Boy Friend Required On The Tax Returnjust

  • Name

    Two questions for anyone — I have been unemployed for 3 years, and my only income has been withdrawing from my 401 k, more than the $3900, one year 5K, one year 7K. My qualified partner has paid for almost all my bills in this time. With my personal exemption putting my income below the max 3900 amount two years ago, do I qualify, and is it possible for my partner to go back two years to claim me?

  • Kristy Adams Brock

    I have a question?? My parents has had custody of my 3 kids till June 20, 2014! Me and my husband went to court on June 20,2014 and we was awarded custody back of our kids! My question would be who would have the right to claim the kids in the upcoming year in January of 2015?? Us or my parents since both of us will have had them for half the year??

  • Helping Out

    What about a gay adult friend who is disabled, waiting for a disability hearing, and moved in about two years ago. He has become part of the household.

  • Sydney

    Brilliant. Wish I had this info back when I had a broke boyfriend lol