Can I claim my unmarried partner as a dependent on my tax return? 17

Tax Status of Unmarried Individuals

While the Federal Government does not recognize unmarried partners in terms of filing taxes jointly , there are rules that could allow you to claim your partner as a dependent on your tax return, assuming your situation meets certain criteria.

In order to claim your unmarried partner as a dependent, you must answer yes to the following questions:

1. Do you support your partner financially? In order to claim your partner as a dependent, you must provide at least 50% of your partner’s total support for the year. Support is defined as food, clothing, shelter, medical and dental care, education and other normal expenses.

2. Does your partner make less than $2,900 per year? The person being claimed as a dependent cannot make more than $2,900 per year in taxable income. Nontaxable income such as social security benefits, welfare and gifts do not count.

3. Is your partner a U.S. Citizen? Your partner must be a citizen of the U.S., Canada or Mexico or must be a resident alien to qualify.

4. Is your relationship to the dependent within the local laws? This is a tricky one and many courts have ruled against this particular test in the interest of privacy but, essentially, the IRS does not want to allow the deduction if your relationship violates local laws.

This particular rule was written when sodomy and cohabitationwere still considered illegal in many states and the IRS wanted to honor those particular laws by not allowing a financial benefit.

Most states have since repealed these laws however, there are still a few that haven’t and in the event that you live in one of those states, then technically, you’re not allowed to claim the deduction. Keep in mind however, that the illegal aspect of your relationship would have to be provable in order for the deduction to be disallowed.

Also keep in mind that this doesn’t necessarily mean that same-sex couples can’t pass this test since being a same-sex couple in and of itself isn’t “against the law” – it just isn’t recognized by many states as a legitimate marital relationship.

5. Is your partner unmarried? If the person you’re wanting to claim as a dependent is legally married and files a joint tax return with his or her spouse, then you cannot claim the deduction unless the married couple did not make enough to file a tax return and did so only to get a refund. This particular rule applies equally to both heterosexual couples as well as same-sex couples since the criteria does not specify what type of relationship the couple enjoys (other than it being legal) – only that the financial support exists.

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Discussion

  • Kristenk

    My partner will possibly claim me as a tax dependent this year, as I have been working (unpaid) for a start-up company and have earned about $400 at temp jobs this year, total. We are eligible for this filing option according to your criteria here (and the IRS.gov site).
    I’m curious as to whether there may be repercussions for me in the future as I intend to re-file on my own again next year. I know that taxes aren’t like credit, where a few errors can do a lot of damage to a long-term credit report, but I’m trying to figure out if we are sacrificing any sort of other benefits or risking anything by filing this way. Thanks so much!

  • Gwen

    I supported my now husband then fieance in 2004 and 2005. Unfortunitly the IRS says I did not file those years (I thought I did but find no record) I would like to claim head of household for those years I live in California and he made no income due to an injury can I claim him as HOH?

    • Carrie

      No, you need a Qualifying child /relitive to become HH. He is considered nothing to you but a boyfriend at the time, and if you live in Minnesota, Their local law says you are not able to claim boyfriend/girlfriend and IRS follows all states local laws.

  • curious

    I filed for divorce 3 years ago, been to court many times but due to disagreement on his owed child support we have never been to court for that final “you are divorced” hearing with a final divorce decree. Just many court records of what is battled out this go around.

    Now is california one of those few states left that says I can not claim my current boyfriend who has lived with me all year, made less than 3,500 due to job loss and economy and whom I’ve supported? I would like to claim him, but I’m unsure where the line is drawn on which states will allow it and if I am considered ‘married’ due to not getting a final decree since I filed 3 years ago due to my x’s stall tactics. I don’t wanna get penalized by the IRS for an inaccurate claim. But right now I could really use the deduction

  • wondering

    I have lived with my childs father since 1990, he had asked me to marry him. I said yes. In 2000 we signed a common law marraige paper where he worked, I then had my name changed, ss card, drivers liscense changed. we lived as a married couple since and filed jointly on income taxes up until 2009. In pa are we still considered common law? I filed for spousal/child support and now hes stating we are NOT married???

  • Tina

    I used to live with my kids father back in 2008 for more than 6 months.We filled as married living together so far. I moved back to my parents house nd he moved in with me for 2 months the most, things dint work out so he moved out but that year in 2009 we filled married him living in my parents house.Now in 2010 I filled head of house hold because I was told that if I have 2 dependents no matter what I have to b head of house hold when my situation is living with parents paying for bills under my dads name! The IRS r holding my money because they think he still lives with me and they think we r ligally married! How can I get proof that we r not legally marrie….I was told that if we live together for more than 6 months we are legally married that’s why we filled as married.Now they send me a letter saying that I owe them what I was supposed to receive what can I do or where can I get proof that we are not legally marrid?

  • shannon

    My boyfriend has lived with me for the past two years. he has not worked this year and i have been supporting him. can i claim him? i haven’t saved any reciepts for food, cloths, ect. my parents claimed him last year, but they also have not worked this year. so i would like to know if i can claim him or not.

  • Angel

    My boyfriend and I have lived together for the last year and a half, Can I claim him as a dependent? There was an order to pay child support entered in may or june so he is now pass due on child support will they take my return if I try to claim him? I have a child that isnt his.

    • rainbow12

      did you get this question answered? im wondering the same thing.

  • donovan mason

    i live in the COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA and according to the research i have found,cohabitation is illegal,even though it isnt enforced.any way my signifigant other has a 2 year old daughter from a previous relationship.weve lived together for the last year and a half,and i am the sole breadwinner and provide for them both.is there any LEGAL way to claim them as my dependents for federal tax/state tax purposes because the information i have isnt very clear-cut and concise..any help on this matter would be appreciated.

  • Danielle

    My boyfriend and i have been together for 3 years we have a 7 month old baby.we live with his mom until we get our own place.we were wondering if he could claim HH and if he can claim me.he’s provided everything for me for a year now.were not sure if he can or not…HELP!

  • Danielle

    i live in ohio.

  • Florence

    My partner lives with me. He collects Social Security disability $892.00 a month. Can I claim him as a dependent on my W4. he pays half the rent and utilities but I pay more then half for rent utilities, food, and any other items needed for the home. Also his clothes

  • Scott

    I am paying child support to New York State for my 17 y.o. daughter. who mother is on public assistance; I want to know that if my daughter has children while her mother is receiving public assistance will I stay have to pay child support if my daughter obtains public assistance for herself & children?

  • EEK

    I’ve lived with my girlfriend for some years now. Through those year’s I’ve been unemployed. She gets s.s.i. and s.s.d. Can she claim me as a dependent, claiming head of household? Oh I “the boyfriend” am married but separated.

  • Samantha

    For 2 yrs My boyfriend claims me as a dependent on our taxes does that mean we’re common law married in the state of Texas?
    He calls me his wife and I call him my husband and we have a baby together and we live together. The person at H & R block said filing together made us common law married and if we were done with our relationship we wouldn’t have to get a divorce.

  • Sean Lee

    Can I claim my baby mother on income tax as well as my daughter? My baby mother received ssi and we don’t live together, she lives with her mother and I’m trying to get a place for us to live together. We live in the state of Pennsylvania. is it allowed here?