The IRS allows you to claim dependents on your tax return, thus lowering the amount of money that is subject to income tax. There are several "tests" that apply to tax dependents, but there is no specific age limit. You can claim an older relative, disabled or not, if the other requirements are met.
The IRS rules on dependents set out five basic tests for qualification. One is residency status: a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, legal permanent resident or resident of Canada or Mexico may qualify as a dependent. You won't be able to claim a relative who is present in the U.S. on a temporary visa, such as a student or work visa, or someone who does not have legal immigration status.
Dependent's Tax Info
The IRS does not allow you to claim as a dependent someone who is also a dependent on someone else's return. In addition, if the individual files his own tax return and claims a personal exemption or a dependent of his own, he can't be claimed as a dependent on your return. Nor will the IRS allow you to claim a dependent if that individual files a joint tax return.
Siblings, step-siblings, parents, grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, and in-laws don't have to live with you to claim them as dependents. All others, including cousins, must live with you throughout the year. The IRS will allow in-laws to continue as dependents even if a divorce intervenes and, by strictly legal standards, ends the in-law relationship.
The older disabled relative you're claiming must have gross yearly income of less than $3,900 to be claimed as a dependent. This includes salary, interest, unemployment benefits, sales commissions and any and all other taxable income. The IRS also includes Social Security disability benefits and any other tax-exempt benefits, such as workers' compensation. The tax rules do not count income earned by a disabled relative from a workshop she attended for the main purpose of medical care.
You must provide at least half of the individual's total expenses for rent and other household costs, clothing, education, medical costs, and travel to claim him as a dependent. The IRS considers all sources of support -- including the dependent's own -- in deciding what your portion of that support was during the year. When calculating this, you must include in your relative's share any benefits such as Social Security disability and other government benefits, unless you can show that these benefits were not used to support the dependent you're claiming.
Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.