Can You Claim a Girlfriend as a Dependent on Income Taxes?

by Mark Kennan, Demand Media
    If you qualify, claiming your girlfriend on your taxes will save money.

    If you qualify, claiming your girlfriend on your taxes will save money.

    Your love and devotion to your girlfriend might be admirable, but it won't convince the Internal Revenue Service that you are entitled to claim her as a dependent on your tax return. To claim her, she has to meet the IRS criteria for a "qualifying relative" -- even though she's not a relative. It's very difficult, but not impossible, to claim your girlfriend as your dependent when file your income taxes.

    Gross Income Test

    Your girlfriend's gross income for the year cannot exceed the value of an exemption. The value of the exemption changes over time. For example, in 2012, the exemption value equals $3,800. Gross income includes all income not exempt from taxes and is figured before taking into account any deductions or exemptions. For example, if your girlfriend works part-time and has $4,000 of income in 2012, you can't claim her as your dependent.

    Support Test

    You must provide more than half of the support for your girlfriend during the year. Support includes the expenses of living such as housing, utilities, food, medical care and education. For example, if you pay rent and your girlfriend lives with you, that counts as support you paid for her. If you pay for 60 percent of her support, you meet the support test. However, if you pay 49 percent, her parents pay 41 percent and she pays 10 percent, you don't meet the test.

    Residency Test

    Since your girlfriend isn't a member of your family and therefore can't meet the relationship test, she must meet the residency test. The residency test requires that she live with you for the entire year. However, temporary absences don't disqualify your girlfriend. These include absences for education, illness, vacation, business and military service.

    Not Someone Else's Dependent

    You can't claim your girlfriend as a dependent if anyone else could claim her as a dependent child. Usually, dependent children can only be claimed until the year they turns 19, but if your girlfriend is a full-time student, her parents can claim her until the year she turns 24. However, if her parents can't claim her as a dependent, and she meets all the other requirements, you may be able to do so.

    About the Author

    Mark Kennan is a freelance writer specializing in finance-related articles. He has worked as a sports editor for "Ring-Tum Phi" and published articles on a number of online outlets. Kennan holds a Bachelor of Arts in history and politics from Washington and Lee University.

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