Posted by McCool's Tax Service

Can You Claim a Parent as a Dependent?

Can You Claim a Parent as a Dependent?

Individuals and small business organizations often turn to tax preparation services when filing time arrives, and for good reason. U.S. tax law is complex: people with average incomes and small business entities with modest revenue can face tricky tax situations.

One common question that married and single taxpayers ask is whether or not they can claim a parent as a dependent. The answer has become especially complicated under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act recently passed by the U.S. Congress.

Claiming a Parent as a Dependent

U.S. taxpayers can claim parents as dependents if several basic conditions are met. Those conditions are outlined below:

Income: The dependent's gross income cannot be more than $4,050. Keep in mind that social security payments to the dependent are not counted as gross income for these purposes.

Support: For the purposes of the IRS, a dependent is someone for whom you provide more than 50 percent of their total financial support. "Support" includes clothing, shelter, food and medical expenses (even medical equipment).  

Social Security: If the dependent does not have a Social Security number, the person needs to have a valid Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) in order to qualify as a legal dependent for tax purposes.

Relationship: To prevent people from claiming friends and neighbors as dependents, the IRS has strict rules in place. A dependent must be related to you by adoption, biologically, or as an in-law. In-laws are actually blood relations of your spouse, whether or not your spouse is alive or deceased.

The "One dependent" Rule: It is also important to remember that the dependent cannot be claimed as a dependent on someone else's tax return. The IRS is quite strict about this point, so if you intend to claim your parent as a dependent, make sure you are the only one claiming them.

Residency: The dependent in question must be a U.S. citizen or a U.S. national. If not, they must be at least a U.S. resident alien or a resident of Mexico or of Canada.

Other Considerations: In no case is a taxpayer allowed to claim as a dependent someone who files a joint tax return with someone else. This question often comes into play when an elderly parent that you support files, or intends to file, a joint return with a spouse.

How Tax Preparation Services Can Help

Small businesses and individuals who want to simplify the filing process have options besides doing all the work themselves. The best one is to turn to a company that specializes in IRS filings, whether annually or quarterly. There is no substitute for competent assistance when it comes time to deal with the government.

McCool's Tax Service ( has a professional team of tax experts that can help individuals and small businesses deal with any financial or tax-related issue.

Email them at:, or call at your convenience: 717-215-0234. There's no reason to let tax returns take your mind off of your business or personal life.

McCool's Tax Service
Contact This Member