Tax Related

Can I Claim My Mother on My Tax Return After My Father Passed Away?

Written by Steve Rhode

Question:

Dear Steve,

My father passed away in March 2019. That same month Mom had to be placed in assisted living. I have been paying the assisted living costs for Mom. I want to claim her either as a dependent or as a qualifying person to file my return as head of household.

Can I file my parents as married filing separately and claim my mother on my return?

Joe

Answer:

Dear Joe,

So sorry to hear about the loss of your father. It can be a very difficult time in your life. Adding on your mother’s situation makes it exceedingly traumatic.

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I’m not a tax expert and don’t have a clue about your question so I turned to my friend Jim Buttonow who is a tax expert.

Here is what Jim said.

“Joe can claim Head of Household if he meets these three criteria for his Mom:

  • Joe is unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
  • Joe can claim his Mom as a dependent.
  • Joe paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for his Mom for the tax year. Joe’s dependent Mom doesn’t have to live with him.

To claim his Mom as a dependent, Joe must meet the following tests:

  • Joe (and his spouse if filing jointly) are not a dependent of another taxpayer.
  • Joe’s Mom, if married, doesn’t file a joint return, unless his Mom and Dad file a joint return only to claim a refund of income tax withheld or estimated tax paid.
  • Joe’s Mom is a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, U.S. resident alien, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
  • Joe paid more than half of his Mom’s support for the calendar year.
  • Joe’s Mom’s gross income for the calendar year was less than $4200. (does not include social security)

It sounds like Joe can claim his Mom as a dependent, and can also use Head of Household filing status.

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I would have to know more about Joe’s Mom and Dad’s income to give a more specific answer- but their parents can file a joint return (if they are filing only to get a refund).”

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Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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