You may be able to claim your parent as a dependent on your income tax return whether you are single or married. However, there are 5 tests you need to pass;
- Relationship – It satisfies this condition if the person you are claiming is your parent. Same rule applies to in-law parents and stepparents. However, if you are claiming your foster parent, she/he needs to be living with you at least half of the year.
- Residency – The person you are claiming needs to be a U.S. Citizen, a permanent resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico.
- Joint Filing – If your parent is married, they 1) shouldn’t file their tax return jointly unless their filing is solely to get a refund. 2) should file their tax return separately.
- Income – In 2015 return,in order for you to claim your parent as a dependent, the gross income of your parent should not exceed $4,000. Social security and tax-exempt income are not included in the gross income. However, if all tax-exempt income exceeds $25,000, the gross income includes some portion of social security income.
- Support – The tax payer, you, must provide more than half of the support of your parent. Support includes food, lodging, clothing, education, medical and dental expense, recreation, transportation and other necessities. Also, there is a special rule, called multi-support agreement. In this rule, if the amount, you and other people who support your parent collectively, is more than half of the total support, and you are supporting more than 10%, you may be able to claim your parent as a dependent.
If all 5 tests above are met, you (a tax payer) can to claim your parent (or any other person) as your dependent. However, as mentioned briefly, there may be exemptions and certain conditions for these tests. Therefore I highly recommend that you consult with a tax professional rather than using self-preparing tax software.