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Most states have since repealed these laws however, there are still a few that haven’t and in the event that you live in one of those states, then technically, you’re not allowed to claim the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.