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Can I Claim My Boyfriend or Girlfriend as a Dependent on My Tax Return?

Credits and Deductions Individual Taxes Newlyweds and Couples
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Updated for tax years 2023 and 2024.

If you and your significant other are living together without being married, you probably share many expenses, and one of you may even be financially supporting the other. In such a scenario, you may wonder if you can claim your girlfriend or boyfriend as a dependent on your tax return to take advantage of any tax benefits.

Claiming a dependent on your taxes can lower your taxable income, but does your significant other count as a dependent? Here are the facts on how you could claim a domestic partner on your tax return according to the IRS dependent rules.

What are the tax benefits of claiming my boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent?

When you claim someone as your dependent, you are responsible for their financial well-being, including providing for their food, clothing, housing, and other necessities. If you provide over 50% of their financial support throughout the year, you may qualify to claim them as your dependent. This can help you qualify for certain tax credits and deductions when you file your taxes, ultimately saving you money.

For example, if your significant other qualifies as your dependent, you may be able to claim the Credit for Other Dependents, a tax credit worth up to $500. If your boyfriend or girlfriend had a lot of medical and dental expenses during the year that you helped pay for, you may also be able to deduct some of those expenses if you itemize.

What are the requirements for claiming my significant other as a dependent?

The IRS dependent rules are very particular regarding who qualifies as a dependent. Many couples don’t fall within the IRS rules and will have to file taxes as individuals if they are not yet married. If you are uncertain whether you can claim your domestic partner on your tax return, TaxAct® can help you determine whether the individual qualifies during the filing process.

According to the IRS dependent rules, only qualifying children and relatives count as dependents. But don’t let the term “relative” confuse you. A domestic partner can be considered a relative under IRS regulations if they meet specific qualifications.

If you want to claim your boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent on taxes, your situation has to meet all of the following IRS requirements:

1.   You must live together.

To qualify as a dependent, your significant other must have lived with you for at least one calendar year. If you lived together for a shorter time, you cannot claim your significant other as a dependent.

2.   Your significant other earned less than $4,700 in 2023 (increasing to $5,050 for 2024).

According to the IRS dependent rules, your boyfriend or girlfriend must have earned less than $4,700 during the 2023 tax year or $5,050 for the 2024 tax year if you want to claim them as a dependent. If your partner earned more than the limit, they have essentially earned enough to prove to the IRS that they can care for themselves financially. Even if you live with your partner and pay most of the bills, if your significant other earned more than the threshold in a year, you won’t be able to claim your boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent on your tax return.

3.   You must provide more than 50% of their financial support.

You may be able to claim your significant other as a dependent on your taxes if you pay for over 50% of their basic living expenses. Living expenses may include housing, groceries, education, medical expenses, and more.

You will need to keep track of all these expenses to prove that you provide more than 50% of your significant other’s financial support. Keep all receipts, documentation, and bills, so you have them handy when you need them. Documentation is key when you are claiming any sort of special tax deduction in case the IRS asks for proof.

When can’t I claim my significant other as a dependent?

Even if you and your partner meet the above qualifications, the IRS dependent rules include several caveats and further restrictions.

For instance, you cannot claim your partner as a dependent on your taxes if someone else can claim them as a dependent on their tax return. Each dependent can only be claimed by one taxpayer. So, if your significant other’s parents, children, or ex-spouse claim them as a dependent, you cannot also claim them as a dependent.

Lastly, to claim your boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent, they must be a citizen, national, or resident of the United States. Residents of Canada or Mexico can also qualify.

What about the Child and Dependent Care Credit?

The Child and Dependent Care Credit (CDCC) is a tax break for people who pay child or dependent care costs to care for a qualifying dependent. A common example would be a parent paying daycare costs for someone to watch their child while the parent works.

Though they may sound similar, claiming your domestic partner on your tax return as a dependent differs from claiming the CDCC. You will not qualify to claim this credit unless your significant other is sick or unable to care for themselves and you paid for them to receive care while you worked or looked for work.

How do I actually claim my partner on my taxes?

Now that you know whether or not you can claim your partner as a dependent on your tax return, let’s look at how you can make the claim when filing your taxes. If you file your return using TaxAct, our tax preparation software will ask you questions about your dependents and help you claim any associated tax credits or deductions based on your answers. We’ll walk you through the process of claiming a dependent step-by-step to make it as easy as possible.

This article is for informational purposes only and not legal or financial advice.
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