My girlfriend and I have been living together for the past nine years. We have a child together which I claim every year. Our house is in her name only, but this year she did not work and has zero taxable income. I know I can claim her as my dependent, but am I also able to deduct the mortgage interest we pay on the house, even though the house is in her name?
Yes, you can if you are considered to be an "equitable" owner in the property. However, the ONLY way you can do this is if you are living in the home and treating the home as your own (see below for the IRS Reg.). This means also paying the primary mortgage, taxes, etc. too.
This is called having an "equitable" interest in the property.
"Treas. Reg. § 1.163-1(b) permits a deduction for interest paid on a mortgage when a taxpayer is the legal or equitable owner of the property, even though the taxpayer is not directly liable for the mortgage."
A taxpayer becomes the beneficial or equitable owner of mortgaged property (allowing him to deduct mortgage interest on that property) when he assumes the benefits and burdens of ownership. Whether, and when, this has occurred is determined under state law, on a case-by-case basis.In determining whether the benefits and burdens of ownership have been transferred to a taxpayer, the Tax Court often considers whether the taxpayer (1) has a right to possess the property and enjoy its use, rents, or profits, (2) has a duty to maintain the property, (3) is responsible for insuring the property, (4) bears the property's risk of loss, (5) is obligated to pay the property's taxes, assessments, or charges, (6) has the right to improve the property without the owner's consent, and (7) has the right to obtain legal title at any time by paying the balance of the purchase price. "
Who Can I Claim as a Dependent?
I agree with TTKarenL2's answer but would also like to point out that equitable ownership for a boyfriend living in a girlfriends house would be very rare. For example, her last point about the right to obtain legal title at any time would not be appropriate in a simple boyfriend, girlfriend arrangement.
We are more considered domestic partners than boyfriend/girlfriend.
"more considered?" You either are domestic partners under your state statutes or you are not. If you are, and if your state RDP statute provides some type of inheritance right similar to married couples, then you likely would be an equitable owner. If not, I doubt that you would be.
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