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Can I Claim a Boyfriend/Girlfriend As a Dependent on Income Taxes?

Updated for Tax Year 2015


You can claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent on your federal income taxes if that person meets the IRS definition of a "qualifying relative."

You can claim a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent on your federal income taxes if that person meets the Internal Revenue Service's definition of a "qualifying relative."

Don't get tripped up by the word "relative" here -- according to the IRS, it can include an unrelated person who passes the four following tests concerning residency, income, support and status.

Is your partner an official resident?

Your boyfriend or girlfriend must be a member of your household, meaning that he or she lived with you for the entire calendar year.

The law makes exceptions for temporary absences, such as vacations and medical treatment, but your home must have been that person's official residence for the full year.

However, if your living situation violates local law, you cannot claim that individual as a dependent. In some states, "cohabitation" by unmarried people is against the law.

How much does your partner earn?

If your boyfriend or girlfriend has gross income above a certain amount, you cannot claim that person as a dependent.

Gross income is any income from any source that's subject to tax, whether it's wages, interest on a bank account or other types of taxable income. The limit for gross income limit varies from year to year; for the 2015 tax year, the income limit was $4,000.

Also, you cannot generally claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse.

How much money do you spend on your partner?

You must have paid more than half of your partner’s living expenses during the calendar year for which you want to claim that person as a dependent.

When calculating the total amount of support, you must include not only money received from you and other people but also from the individual’s own funds. In other words, if your partner took money from a savings account to pay for food, housing or other living expenses, and the total amount withdrawn is more than half of the person's living expenses, you cannot claim that individual as a dependent.

Online help

The IRS website offers an online "assistant" that can help you determine whether your boyfriend or girlfriend qualifies as a dependent.

Of course, if you prepare your taxes with TurboTax, we'll ask simple questions about your living situation, and tell you exactly who can be claimed as your dependent.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.

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