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Can I Claim My Girlfriend or Boyfriend as a Dependent?

Under tax reform, you can no longer claim a dependent exemption beginning with tax year 2018, but you still need to know who qualifies as your dependent for other tax benefits like the Other Dependent Credit worth up to $500 for dependents who are considered non-child dependents.

Are you living with your girlfriend or boyfriend? Have you ever wondered whether or not you could claim him or her on your tax return as a dependent? Like many things in life, it depends. Even if it feels like an awkward thing to wonder, it’s worth the ask.

A boyfriend or girlfriend can be claimed as a dependent if they pass some of the same tests used to determine if your child or relative can be claimed as a dependent. First, your significant other cannot be claimed as a dependent if they are eligible to be claimed as a dependent on another tax return. Whether your boyfriend or girlfriend is being claimed is irrelevant, it’s the eligibility that matters. Once you see the rules, especially the residency, and support rules, this will make perfect sense. So, if your significant other’s parents could claim him or her, you cannot. Your significant other also must be a U.S. citizen, resident alien, national, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.

If he or she passes those rules, these four “tests” will need to be passed to qualify as a dependent. He or she:

  1. Is not a “qualifying child” of a taxpayer. The IRS has specific qualifying child rules based on relationship, age, residency, and joint return

  2. Earned less than $4,300 in taxable income in 2021

  3. Did not provide their own support. You must provide more than half of the total support for the year

  4. Lived with you all year as a member of your household (keep in mind: dependent relatives do not have to live with you)

As you can see, the tests make it impossible for someone to be claimed as a dependent on two returns. Either you provided their support or someone else did.

If you and your significant other are living together and considering this route, there are also other ways you can save a lot of money by integrating your finances, without getting married. For example, you could combine auto insurance policies for a multi-car discount. It might not be as romantic as getting married, but it could result in big savings over the course of a year!


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