What are the requirements for claiming parents as dependents?

November 13, 2000

Subject:  Claiming Parents as dependents
Date:  Fri, 3 Nov 2000
From:  Kate

I have had a hard time finding a clear cut answer to this question. I would like to claim my elderly parents as my dependents. I provide more than 1/2 their support, they live in their own home in another state. Do they have to have a minimum income level? If so, what would that be? Are there any other requirements? Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,
Kate

Answer

Date:  Mon, 13 Nov 2000

Hello Kate,

In order to claim a dependency exemption for your parents, you must meet five tests.

  1. The dependent must bear a certain relationship to the taxpayer or be a member of the taxpayer’s household for the year. Since these are your parents, you meet the relationship requirement and don’t have to live in the same household.

  2. The dependent may not have gross income exceeding the exemption amount ($2,800 for 2000.) Tax exempt income doesn’t count for this test, including the part of social security income that is exempt from tax.

  3. The dependent may not file a joint return with another taxpayer. Your parents may not file a joint return for a year that you are going to claim a dependent’s exemption for them.

  4. The taxpayer claiming the dependency exemption must provide more than one-half of the support for the dependent. In some cases, brothers and sisters may have a multiple support agreement about who may claim the exemption. You have indicated you meet this test.

  5. The dependent must be a U.S. citizen, a U.S. national or a resident of the U.S., Canada or Mexico during the calendar year.

You might want to consult with a local tax consultant to apply these rules to your situation.

Good luck!
Mike Gray

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