Gay couples, the tax code, joint tax returns and dependents.

Discussion in 'Politics' started by The Professor, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. The Professor

    The Professor Diamond Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Mar 4, 2011
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    In another post, g5000's signature contained the following information:

    “For example, you may not file joint federal income tax returns with your partner, even if your state allows you to file taxes jointly. And other federal benefits, such as Social Security death benefits and COBRA continuation insurance coverage, may not apply.”

    Everything that g5000 said is all too true. However, I want to offer some additional information which might help gay couples and everyone else, too.

    Even though - as g5000 has stated - Gay couples cannot file a joint Federal return (they may still file joint State returns), it is possible for one of the partners to claim the other as a dependent under certain conditions. I would ask everyone to be careful on this because there is much disinformation on the Internet regarding this issue. Some sites will claim it cannot be done, while others claim that it can. I will quote a few sites that say you can, and then I will explain the IRS Code (I once worked for the IRS) . First, here are several reputable sites:

    “If you have been supporting a non-relative, you may be able to claim them as a dependent. You will find information on this in Pub 501 under Member of Household or Relationship Test, which states that the person must either live with you all year as a member of your household, or be related to you in one of the ways listed under 'Relatives who do not have to live with you'. The list they are referring to is very detailed, but read through it to make sure.

    “Regarding claiming a non-relative as a dependent, there is one caveat, and that is that you cannot claim the non-relative residing with you if at any time during the year the relationship between you and that person violates local law. So for example, if your girlfriend or boyfriend is living with you, and you have been supporting them because they are unemployed, you may not be able to claim them as a dependent if the state you live in doesn’t recognize common-law partnerships.”

    Dependents - According To The IRS

    “To qualify for an exemption your dependent must either be:

    **• a relative or
    **• a member of your household for the entire year.”

    What are the qualifications for claiming a person as a Dependent or a Qualifying Child on my return?

    According to the IRS Publication 501 (2011), “dependent” means either a “qualifying child” or a “qualifying relative” (page 10). The IRS defines a “qualifying relative” as EITHER someone who has lived all year with you as a member of your household OR someone who is related to you by blood or marriage. Clearly the IRS does not define relative in the traditional sense, and I think many people are confused by this. If you check page 16 of Publication 501, you will find that the IRS has given an example that explains it all:

    “Example 1: You support an unrelated friend and her 3-year old child, who lived with you all year in your home. Your friend has no gross income, is not required to file a 2011 tax return and does not file a 2011 tax return. Both your friend and her child are your qualifying relatives if the member of household or relationship test, gross income test and support test are met” (emphasis my own).

    (NOTE: Regarding the gross income and support tests: for the tax year 2011, a dependent must have gross income less than $3,700. You must also be personally responsible for more than half pf the persons support.)

    If you are living with ANYONE you may be able to claim that person as a dependent as long as they lived as a member of your household during the entire year, you provided more than half their support, and their income was below the threshold amount. If you are part of a gay couple married under the laws of your state, you may qualify to claim your mate as a dependent. Even if you are not married, you still may be able to claim your partner if your living arrangement does not violate local law. If you were able to claim your mate for the 2011 tax year but failed to do so, you can always file an amended return (generally within 3 years).

    You can review IRS Publication 501 (2011) at the following link.

    I hope this helps someone.

    PS: Only the IRS would define an unrelated person as a qualified relative. Go figure.
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