A. You may be able to claim your elderly relative as a dependent, if you meet certain criteria.
Who qualifies as a dependent?
The IRS defines a dependent as a qualifying child or relative. A qualifying relative can be your mother, father, grandparent, stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law, or father-in-law, for example, and can be any age.
There are four tests that must be met in order for a person to be your qualifying relative:
1. Not a Qualifying Child Test
Your parent or relative cannot be claimed as a qualifying child on anyone else's tax return.
2. Member of Household or Relationship Test
He or she must be U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico; however, a parent or relative doesn't have to live with you in order to qualify as a dependent.
If your qualifying parent or relative does live with you, you may be able to deduct a percentage of your mortgage, utilities and other expenses when you figure out the amount of money you contribute to his or her support.
3. Gross Income Test
To qualify as a dependent, income cannot exceed the personal exemption amount, which in 2014 is $3,950. In addition, your parent or relative, if married, cannot file a joint tax return with his or her spouse unless that joint return is filed only to claim a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax paid.
4. Support Test
You must provide more than half of a parent's total support for the year such as costs for food, housing, medical care, transportation and other necessities.
In our next blog post, we will share the details of how to claim the dependent care credits.