How To Claim An Elderly Parent As A Dependent

By Jay White

June 7, 2015   •   Fact checked by Dumb Little Man

Parents spend years raising their children, and they may find later down the road that they will come to rely on their own children for care and support as they grow older. While you can legally claim your elderly parent as one of your dependents on your taxes under certain circumstances, there are a specific set of rules that will apply in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service.

Your Parent’s Gross Income

According to the IRS, your parent’s yearly income cannot exceed the amount of the dependency exemption that you’re claiming for him or her. The IRS includes gross income from several sources, including income collected from rental properties and interest from investments. While the IRS also considers unemployment compensation but not necessarily Social Security benefits, it can be tricky to decipher what exactly of your parent’s benefits are taxable. In general, if Social Security is the major or only source of income, you would not be required to include it when determining whether your he or she qualifies as a dependent.

Your Parent’s Residence

Dependents are either qualifying relatives or qualifying children. Since your parent is obviously not a child, he or she must qualify as a relative. According to the IRS, a “relative” is an individual related to you by marriage or blood, and you will likely receive an additional tax break because your parent is, well, a parent and not a more distant relative. If you are attempting to qualify a parent-in-law or stepparent, you will also likely receive another tax break as long as you and the person whom you are claiming meets the other qualifying rules.

The Support Amount

It is important to keep in mind that the amount that your parent spends to support himself or herself is not equal to his or her income. In order for your parent to qualify, you must be able to prove that you provided more than half of the support for your parent for the entire year. In other words, if he or she earns $4,500 in countable, verified income and spends it to support himself or herself, you must show that you contributed at least $4,501 for the same purpose. Also remember that income not spend on the parent’s own support does not count. In other words, if he or she receives $4,500 in countable, verified income but only spends $500 on himself or herself, then you would only need to spend $501 or more to meet this requirement.

Jay White

I started Dumb Little Man many years ago so great authors, writers and bloggers could share their life "hacks" and tips for success with everyone. I hope you find something you like!

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