April 15 is right around the corner, and everyone knows what that means. Tax returns are due to the Internal Revenue Service once again, and if you owe Uncle Sam any money, that is due as well.
I’m a procrastinator when it comes to filing my tax return. The fact that I have paid taxes throughout the year and then have to sort through all the tax laws and jargon to see if I owe more money to the government is not very appealing to me. There have been a few years when I actually received a little money back, which is why I keep filing I guess — that, and my wife tells me I don’t look good in stripes.
For the past few years, I have prepared both my daughter’s and mother’s taxes as well. Last year, I made a major mistake on my daughter’s taxes, which affected my own return, too. Guess what? The IRS does keep track of these things. Just call me the H&R Blockhead of the family. I was able to sort everything out, but I have a feeling I am on the watch list for years to come.
As someone who cares for a parent, I thought it might be good to see if my mother could be claimed as a dependent on my return. Although my mom did not meet all the stipulations to qualify, I realize there may be folks out there that are caring for a parent who could be listed as an exemption.
The information that follows is in no way intended to be tax advice — refer to the previous paragraph if you need more convincing — but I thought this information was interesting.
From what I could gather, there are a few “tests” that the IRS has in order to qualify a parent as a dependent on your return. If you are a son or daughter caring for a parent, your parent qualifies based on the “member of household or relationship” test. Even if the parent does not live with you, he/she may still qualify.
But there’s more, so don’t get too excited yet.
The “gross income” test stipulates that your parent’s gross annual income must be less than $3,700. This amount does not include income from non-Social Security or disability payments, but other forms of income may apply. So seek advice from a tax expert if you believe your parent may qualify in this area.
The final test is the “Support” test. Simply stated, you must pay for more than half of your parent’s expenses. There are many factors that apply to this test, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and transportation. Again, a tax expert could help you determine if your parent qualifies under this test.
Remember, you must qualify your parent using all the above tests, not just one or the other. There are additional deductions, too, such as the “multiple support declaration” and the “child and dependent care credit.” Of course, the best thing to do if you feel you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent is to seek expert advice. Most reputable tax services will have the answers you need.
DeLong is the executive director for The Suites at Station Exchange. Email him at Suites.StationExchange@gmail.com.