Can we claim my wife’s mom as a dependent?

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Q. My wife’s mom has no income except Social Security. She is 101 and in assisted living. My wife and her sister in another state each pay $3,000 per month. My wife does all the other help her mom needs and she lives in our town. Can we claim her as a dependent?
— Caregiver’s husband

A. We have good news and bad news.

While your situation may have met all the dependency tests, there are no longer any dependency tests under the new tax law, said Kenneth Bagner, a certified public accountant with Sobel and Co. in Livingston.

He said there are several ways you can still claim someone as a dependent: To obtain a child tax credit or to deduct medical expenses over a certain threshold.

There is a new $500 credit for each qualifying dependent, Bagner said, and it’s a nonrefundable credit.

“The credit can be used for older children – over 17, relatives and even non-relatives if you provide over half the support for your dependent during the year, and they earn less than $4,150 for 2018,” Bagner said.

Now to the dependency tests.

The first is support.

“The taxpayer must provide more than half the support of the claimed dependent, except for special rules with respect to multiple-support agreement and children of divorced or separated parents,” Bagner said.

Then there’s the gross income test.

Income must be less than $4,150 in 2018 unless the person is under age 19, or under age 24 if going to college. In that case, the income is unlimited, he said.

The person must be related to the taxpayer and a member of household for entire year, the exception being a parent living in assisted living.

Finally, a joint return cannot be filed by the dependent, and the dependent must be a U.S. citizen, Bagner said.

Email your questions to moc.p1553410802leHye1553410802noMJN1553410802@ksA1553410802.

This story was originally published in March 2019. 

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