Thursday, December 06, 2007

When Parents Can Be Claimed Dependents On A Tax Return

In the past year, my mother was admitted to a nursing home, and needed her children to handle all of her affairs. However, our mother is not a dependent for tax filing purposes. Whether a parent can be claimed as a dependent on one's tax return depends on two criteria.

  1. A child (or children) must provide over 50% of the support for the parent

  2. The parent must have less than $3,300 of gross non-tax exempt income.

It can be challenging to meet both criteria for the reasons below.

As I understand it, if a parent owns a home, they will typically be considered as providing over 50% of their own support, and be disqualified from being a dependent. However, if they live in a rented house that is separate from their child or in a nursing home, it is possible to have over 50% of support provided by their child.

Also, since gross income includes wage, pensions, dividends, capital gains, traditional IRA distributions and interest, it may challenging to keep it below $3,300. Only income exempt from federal income taxes, e.g. municipal bonds and some Social Security payments, can be excluded from the calculation. For Social Security, payments are not counted in gross income until the other taxable income is over $25,000 (single) or $32,000 (married filing jointly).

My mother's situation does not meet either criteria. She still financially supports herself, owns a home and has taxable income over $3,300. Thus, she cannot be claimed as dependent by anybody.

For more on Crossing Generations , check back every Thursday for a new segment.

This is not financial or tax advice. Please consult a professional advisor.

Copyright © 2007 Achievement Catalyst, LLC

1 comment: said...

Thanks for contributing this article to this week's Carnival of Family Life, hosted at, the so-called me, on Monday, December 10, 2007! We have many other wonderful entries, so stop by and read a few!

Interested in hosting the Carnival? The schedule is posted at, Colloquium.