Love & Taxes: Deducting a Significant Other

Julia Chang
Posted

Love, companionship, emotional support—these are all benefits of being in a happy relationship.

But can you add tax breaks to that list?

If you support a partner financially—even if you’re not married—you just might be able to count your loved one as a dependent on your taxes, as long as certain IRS qualifications are met.

Your partner must earn less than $3,900 per year and live with you throughout the year. You must also be responsible for covering more than half of his or her expenses, and someone else cannot claim him or her as a dependent.

If all those qualifications are met, your sweetheart could get you a sweet exemption of up to $3,900.

To be sure, claiming a boyfriend or girlfriend as a dependent is rare because of the low income threshold. Lisa Skidmore Sexton, an enrolled agent at Accu-Rite Tax & Accounting in Carlsbad, N.M., tells CNNMoney that of the 300 tax returns she prepares each year, only one or two couples actually end up being eligible to take the exemption.

Perhaps the most obvious cases in which one partner could count another as a dependent is if someone stays home to raise children, or if one partner supports the other during a job search—but only if you don’t fall into the high-net-worth income category. The tax break phases out for those who make more than $250,000 a year.

To figure out if you can claim your honey as a dependent, visit this IRS webpage, which will take you through a list of questions that will help you determine your eligibility.