Tax Deductions for Dependent Parents

by Alia Nikolakopulos

    If you have a dependent parent, you may qualify for several tax benefits. A parent may qualify as your dependent if you pay more than half his expenses and he receives less than a certain amount of taxable income. The taxable income threshold changes on an annual basis, but is usually the same amount as the personal exemption deduction established by the Internal Revenue Service each year. Your parent does not have to live with you in order to claim him as a dependent.

    Filing Status

    If you’re unmarried and have a dependent parent, you qualify to file as head of household. This filing status awards you with a greater standard deduction, which reduces your taxable income. Tax rates for the head of household status are also lower, providing a double benefit to your end tax result.

    Personal Exemption

    You are eligible to take a personal exemption for each person you claim on your tax return, including yourself and your spouse if you file a joint return. Personal exemption amounts increase a little each year. As of June 2012, the IRS rate is $3,700 per person. This deduction reduces your taxable income.

    Medical Expenses

    If you itemize deductions on Schedule A, you may qualify to deduct any medical expenses you pay for your dependent parent. These include expenses such as doctor co-payments, prescriptions, supplemental insurance premiums, vision services and dental costs. If your dependent parent is in a nursing home, include the cost of nursing home services and meals you pay. Medical expenses are subject to adjusted gross income limitations, so you won't get a straight deduction for all your expenses. At the time of publication, you can deduct the combined total of your own and your dependent parent’s medical costs that exceed 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. This percentage is set to increase in 2013; check the IRS website for the most recent information.

    Dependent Care Expenses

    If your dependent parent lives with you and you have expenses for her care while you’re at work, you may qualify for the dependent care credit. Your parent must not be able to care for herself safely, due to an illness or disability. You can deduct a portion of your costs for private nurses, housekeepers and cooks you hire to maintain the well-being of your parent during your normal work hours. This credit is a non-refundable credit that can be used to reduce your income tax to zero. There is no carry-over allowed for unused portions of this credit.

    About the Author

    With a background in taxation, Alia Nikolakopulos specializes in business and personal finance topics. She is an IRS enrolled agent pursuing a Bachelor of Science in accounting and journalism at the Metropolitan State University of Denver.

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