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.