Many people are under the belief that someone who is their dependent, but is unrelated to them can’t be claimed as a dependent on their tax returns. While they can’t be claimed under the qualifying child rules, there is always a chance they can be claimed as a qualifying relative. The four tests for a qualifying relative are:
- Not a qualifying child test. The person you are claiming as a qualifying relative can’t also be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of another person. However, interestingly enough if the person does qualify as a qualifying child of another person, but that person doesn’t file a tax return or only files to receive a refund of income tax withheld or paid, you can claim them as a qualifying relative, if the other tests are met.
- Member of household or relationship test. If the person is unrelated to you they must live with you all year or fall under the surprisingly large relatives who do not have to live with you group, which includes: children, stepchildren, foster children, grandchildren, siblings, half siblings, step siblings, parents, grandparents, stepparents, nieces, nephews, uncles, aunts, and in-laws. Another odd tidbit about this test is that any of the relationships listed established through marriage are not ended by death or divorce.
- Gross income test. The person’s gross income for the year must be less than $3,900 for 2013 (personal exemption amount for 2013, generally goes up each year). Gross income is all income from money, property, or services that is not exempt from taxation.
- Support test. You must provide over 50% of the support for the person you are claiming as a qualifying relative for the applicable tax year. You can calculate this amount by doing a comparison of the amount in support you provided versus what they received from all sources, which includes support they provided from their own funds.
A common question related to this topic is can you claim your wife as a dependent. While you can claim a dependent girlfriend as a qualifying relative, your wife can’t be claimed. This is because when using the filing status married filing jointly you get a personal exemption for both the taxpayer and spouse already or one personal exemption for each married filing separately return. If you want to read more about this topic, it is discussed in IRS Publication 501 here –
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