Tax guide

Claiming a Parent

Updated for filing 2021 tax returns

Can I claim a parent as a dependent on my tax return?

Paying more than half of your parent’s household expenses means you are eligible to claim your parent as a dependent. Claiming a dependent will no longer give you an exemption, but it can still provide tax breaks.

What are the requirements for claiming a parent as a dependent?

Unlike children, parents don’t have to live with you at least half of the year to be claimed as dependents – they can qualify no matter where they live. As long as you pay more than half their household expenses, your parent can live at another house, nursing home, or senior living facility. (Be sure to check out the Child and Dependent Care credit.)

Can more than one person claim a parent as a dependent?

Several people can contribute to a parent’s household expenses, which happens frequently when several adult children pitch in—but it may be unclear who gets to claim the dependent parent. After all, many times no one person contributed at least 50% of support.

If that’s the case for you, each person who pays more than 10% to help your parent should fill out a Form 2120 and give it to the one who will claim your parent. The form allows each person to release their claim to one party, and you can even take turns in different tax years.

When you’re doing your taxes with and claiming a parent as a dependent, be sure to add a Form 2120 for each person releasing a claim to the parent.

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Could claiming my parent as a dependent qualify me for the head of household filing status?

Is your filing status single or married filing separately? Are you paying more than half of your parent’s household expenses? If the answer is yes to both questions, you may be able to file as head of household. That gives you a higher standard deduction, which is a good thing.

However, if you pay less than half of the expenses, or you contribute less than 10% of the total yearly expense and claim your parent as a dependent, you’re not eligible to file as head of household.

Ready to file your tax return? Claiming a parent is easy with

Regardless of how you claim your parent, keeps the process simple with our tax-filing walkthrough. Sign up or log in to get started!

Also see:
Who Can You Claim as a Dependent?
Child and Dependent Care

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