Dear Tax Talk, My mom lives with me and is confined to a bed. She draws widower benefits from my father. Do I claim her income of $935 a month? And can I claim her on my taxes as a dependent? What are the rules on claiming a dependent parent? -- Mike
Dear Mike, Let's get right to your first question regarding who reports the widower benefits. You do not claim the widower benefits received by your mother, as that would be reported on her tax return. You have not indicated any other sources of income for her, so she may not even be required to file.
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Moving on to your 2nd question: In order to claim your mother as a dependent, you must be sure that her gross income was less than $4,000 in 2015. Please note: The widower benefits she receives is not included in the $4,000. Additionally, you must have provided more than half of her total support.
Determining support when claiming a dependent parent
Support includes the value of a dependent's lodging, food, utilities, home repairs, clothing, medical and dental expenses not reimbursed by insurance, and even travel and recreation expenses.
The personal exemption for 2015 has increased from $3,950 to $4,000. However, it is subject to a phase-out that starts when adjusted gross income, or AGI, is $258,250 ($309,900 for married couples filing jointly). It is completely phased out when AGI is $380,750 ($432,400 for married couples filing jointly).
You do not mention your filing status, so I want to point out one more benefit that may help you. If you are unmarried or "considered unmarried" at the end of the year and you have paid more than half the cost of maintaining your home, you may qualify to file as "head of household." You should definitely check out the requirements on the IRS website.
Thanks for the great question and all the best to you and your mother.
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