Can My Daughter Claim Her Lazy Boyfriend as a Dependent?

Dear Penny,

My 21-year-old daughter has been living with her boyfriend for the past seven months. He is the same age as she is and is unemployed. He shows absolutely no desire to find employment, nor does he have the drive to do so, which makes me irritated knowing that he is taking advantage of her kindness.

I asked her about it and all she tells me is, “I don’t mind helping him.” I know she is hurting financially because she pays the rent, groceries, gas, etc. My question is: When it’s time to file 2022 income taxes, could she legally claim him as a “dependent” even though they are NOT married? And what other deductions can she claim?


Dear L.,

Clearly, taxes are the least of your daughter’s problems. But unfortunately, it doesn’t sound like your daughter can legally claim her boyfriend on her 2022 tax return.

To claim someone as a dependent on a federal tax return, they need to meet a four-part IRS definition of a “qualifying relative.” (No, they don’t have to actually be a relative to meet the criteria). They need to live with you for the entire calendar year, they have to have less than $4,400 in gross income for 2022, you have to pay more than half of their support for the year, and no one else can claim them as a dependent.

If your daughter’s boyfriend has only lived with her for seven months, he wouldn’t meet the first criteria. But if this living situation continues through the entirety of the next calendar year — and I really hope it doesn’t — your daughter could claim him in 2023.

It’s also doubtful that your daughter would qualify for other deductions. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction. For 2022, the standard deduction is $12,950. For the overwhelming majority of taxpayers, particularly renters, itemizing deductions doesn’t make sense. Any deductions they qualify for will add up to far less than $12,950. So if you’re looking for a silver…

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