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Claiming a dependent- parent

My parents don't live with me. My mom is retired and on social security and is receiving medicaid, and my dad is almost 64 and thinking about retiring, but is still working part time. They are having a hard time paying their rent, and I was thinking of helping them out. If I start paying for their rent and other expenses, can I claim them as dependents even if they don't live with me? Can I claim them even if my dad is still working and has an income? If I am able to claim them as dependents, what are the pros and cons- how would this affect my taxes and theirs.  

2 Replies
Employee Tax & Finance Expert

Claiming a dependent- parent

Even if a person doesn’t live with you, they can still be a qualifying relative if you’re actually related, and the IRS allows for most of your relatives to qualify. Here’s the list of relatives you can claim as a dependent if you’re supporting them financially, even if you’re not living together:


  • A child, stepchild, foster child or any of their descendants
  • Any siblings, including full, half and stepsiblings
  • Parents, stepparents, grandparents or other direct ancestors, but not a foster parent
  • Nieces and nephews (including the children of any half siblings), uncles and aunts
  • A son-in-law, daughter-in-law, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brother-in-law or sister-in-law

However, before you start claiming any and all of these on your taxes, note that they would still need to meet the other requirements about their income and how much of their annual expenses you’re responsible for. What’s more, even a qualifying person still can’t be claimed as a dependent if they’re filing a joint return or if they aren’t a U.S. citizen — and you can’t claim a dependent if you yourself are eligible as someone else’s dependent.

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Employee Tax Expert

Claiming a dependent- parent

Hi, Navarro!


You can claim your parents (and they don't have to live with you) as long as they meet the following 4 tests:


1. Not a qualifying child test,
2. Member of household or relationship test,
3. Gross income test, and
4. Support test.


  • Since they are your parents, they meet the first test.
  • For the second test, because they are your relatives, they do not have to live with you.
  • For the gross income test, a person's gross income for the year must be less than $4,300.
  • For the support test, you must provide more than half of their total support during the calendar year. To meet the support test you figure whether you have provided more than half of a person's total support by comparing the amount you contributed to that person's support with the entire amount of support that person received from all sources. This includes support the person provided from his or her
    own funds. If they receive income but do not use it for their support that is not included.

Here is a link to IRS Publication 501: Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information

You can find a worksheet for calculating the support test on page 15.


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