Can you Claim your Sweetheart on your tax return? | Milwaukee Accountant

Valentine’s Day is all about that special someone in your life, but have you ever wondered if your date across the dinner table might actually be able to save you money on your tax return? Dependents, which can range from a girlfriend to a child or even a friend, are often an area where tax deductions are either missed or misstated on tax returns.

To help taxpayers navigate this gray area, here are the tests necessary to claim someone as your dependent—and some of the tax benefits available for claiming the one you love:

First and foremost, whether they are your child or your Valentine:

• You cannot claim them if you can be claimed as a dependent by another person.

• They cannot file a joint tax return (in most cases).

• They must be a U.S. citizen, resident alien, national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

In order to claim a child as a dependent, these five additional tests must be met:

Relationship: Must be your child, adopted child, foster-child, brother or sister, or a descendant of one of these (grandchild or nephew).

Residence: Must have the same residence for more than half the year.

Age: Must be under age 19 or under 24 and a full-time student for at least 5 months. Can be any age if they are totally and permanently disabled.

Support: Must not have provided more than half of their own support during the year.

Joint support: The child cannot file a joint return for the year.

These four tests determine where a relative or sweetheart qualifies as a dependent:

• They are not the “qualifying child” of another taxpayer or your “qualifying child.”

Gross income: Dependent earns less than $3,800 taxable income in Tax Year 2012 and $3,700 in Tax Year 2011.

Total support: You provide more than half of the total support for the year.

Member of household or relationship: The person must live with you all year as a member of your household or be one of the relatives who doesn’t have to live with you (see IRS Publication 501 for a list of qualifying relatives.)

You can even claim a boyfriend, girlfriend, domestic partner, or friend as a qualifying relative if:

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