General Question

sevenfourteen's avatar

What should I do about this (tax) dilemma?

Asked by sevenfourteen (2419points) April 6th, 2010

My parents claimed me as a dependent under them in their tax returns. However we didn’t live together for most (9 out of 12 months) of 2009. Even now when we “live” together I’m at college and I barely ever go home and don’t even have any of my stuff in their house. They also don’t pay for anything of mine (not because they don’t want to, but they can’t.. I’ve actually been paying some of their bills). Now, I was filling out my taxes last night and I checked the box for being a dependent on someone else’s return. Needless to say I’m losing half of my return because I’m their dependent.

Is this fair? Can’t you only claim someone as a dependent if you are supplying half of their income (aka actually supporting them?). I’ve been supporting myself through everything (and it’s been absolute hell) – shouldn’t this money be mine and not theres? I’m not trying to be selfish, I just don’t think this is fair considering I’m really not a dependent under typical definition. Also does being a college student change this? (they also don’t give me money for school)

I’m really not trying to take money from my parents and I know some people will still look at it as “well they raised you, that cost a lot more” but I really need this money as much as they do.

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16 Answers

DrBill's avatar

In order for them to claim you, they must supply at least ½ of your support.

A parent may clam a dependent child in school until they are 24, as long as they are supplying ½ the support.

Who pays for the school? School expenses are also a form of support…..and a deduction.

wilma's avatar

When my son was in college and working part time, he lived at our home when not at school and that was about half the year, plus some weekends and vacations.
We figured out the taxes both ways, with him claiming himself, and with us claiming him.
It was always more advantageous for us to claim him.
To make it fair to him, we would give him the difference of what he would get back if he claimed himself.

sevenfourteen's avatar

@DrBill the most they do for my school is get their name on the loan but I pay for books, food, and everything else. I was working 30 hours a week and taking 19 credits because of this- they gave me nothing (and once again, only because they don’t have the finances to)

@wilma I was going to raise the idea to them for them to give me the rest of what I would be getting as a return from their return. I have no problem with them claiming me, I just think since I did all the work and paid all the taxes I they should cut me a break since they didn’t actually support me financially

wilma's avatar

@sevenfourteen I think that you should ask them to do this, I think it is fair. You would get what you are due, and they would probably have an advantage as well.

Exhausted's avatar

I agree with @wilma. Approach them with the suggestion that they give you the difference of what you would get back if you claimed yourself. That is only fair and I’m sure they would open to the suggestion. If it is too late this year, at least you will be prepared with a plan for next year.

Judi's avatar

You would not be in trouble if you claimed yourself but they would. Legally, they can’t claim you because they didn’t provide half your support.
If you can’t work it out with them this year, I would at least put them on notice that you will be claiming yourself next year.

drClaw's avatar

Well technically if their name is on your school loan they are the ones “paying” for your classes and that in all likeliness would count for more than ½ of the financial support you receive. Do you know if they plan on paying off the loan after your done with school or if they expect you to pay? Either way I think the idea of talking to them to get a piece of the pie is a good idea.

Judi's avatar

Wait, is it your loan and they co signed or their loan? How much does the loan pay of your support verses your working?

Janka's avatar

I think you should look at the spirit of that law, and then go from there. If they are really not supporting you, why should they get tax benefits as if they were? Taxes are not an unjust fine you should try and get out of; they are used to support common, democratically chosen causes, and I think you should pay them the way they are meant to be paid.

Key issue seems to be who will pay off the loan in the end of your studies? If you will pay for it yourself, then no, you are not their dependent. If they will pay, then yes, they are supporting you.

This is not to say I actually think that democratic process could not be made a lot better. But that’s a different discussion altogether.

sevenfourteen's avatar

They cosigned for the loans because I don’t have enough credit to get them on my own and as soon as I can I have to take their names off the loans (if possible) because they don’t want it to reflect on their credit. I am paying the loans back, and they’re less than what I make a year

JLeslie's avatar

@sevenfourteen Have you talked directly to your parents about this at all? Is there reason for you to think they would be against doing what is financially better for everyone?

thriftymaid's avatar

Read the instructions for the F 1040 at to see if you should be claimed by your parents. If not, claim yourself. In the event of an audit, your parents will have a tax bill. Be sure you have good records to prove that you correctly claimed yourself. If you claim yourself and your parents have already mailed their return, you might want to alert them so that they can amend their return.

YARNLADY's avatar

@thriftymaid You suggest makes sense. The parents should be advised because they could be (financially) harmed if they do nothing. When my adult grandson started working, the three of us got together with his mother to decide who would most benefit from the deduction, and that’s the one who took it. Since my husband makes out all the families tax returns, he ran them three ways to see which would be the best.

sevenfourteen's avatar

Thanks everyone. @JLeslie I talked to them and they said it was reasonable to make up the difference of what I’m going to lose, but to still be a dependent under them. I was afraid of looking ungreatful for asking, but they understood more than I thought.

wilma's avatar

@sevenfourteen YAY!
I was hoping that it would turn out that way.
I’m glad you talked to them.

JLeslie's avatar

@sevenfourteen Excellent. I guess now you just have to make sure you are doing everything the right/legal way.

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