The short answer is maybe. Every year more and more homes house several generations. The return to multiple generations living under the same roof is because we are living longer and the cost of senior care is skyrocketing to the point that many families simply can not afford the cost of assisted living or nursing home care. The result is role reversal where the parent is now dependent on the child.
This change in household dynamic is causing many taxpayers to ask if their aging parents are deductible and if so how. The IRS offers the Qualifying Relative Exemption which has 5 basic rules that must be met in order to qualify:
You or your spouse may not be a dependent on another return.
Your parent(s) may not file a joint return.
They must be a citizen resident alien of the U.S., Canada or Mexico.
You must have provided more than half their support for the year.
They must have a gross income that is within the exemption limit
For federal tax purposes Social Security is not considered taxable income, this is especially true if it is the only source of income they have. Now that your parent qualifies as your dependent you can add their medical expenses to your own for the purpose of qualifying for the medical expense deduction. Minimums apply and are based on your income so be sure to check the rules.
Head of Household may be available to you if you are not or were not married for the tax year according to IRS regulations and you paid more than half of your parents household expenses. This applies even if your qualifying dependent parent does not live with you.
Physical or mental disability can occur at any age and if you parent becomes disabled and they qualify as your dependent you may be able to take advantage of the Dependent Care Credit. There are regulations that apply; “An individual who was physically or mentally incapable of self-care had the same principal place of abode as you for more than half of the year, and was your dependent” Unlike the Qualifying Relative Exemption your parents filing status, income or whether you are a dependent on another return does not matter.
Working or looking for work require time away from home which probably means paying for care for your disabled parent and the Dependent Care Credit. This credit is usually a percentage of your cost of required care, that which you paid a care provider. Naturally there are rules; the care provider cant be your spouse, your child under the age of 19, or yourself. You will also be required to provide the name of the provider and either their tax id number or social security number.
Be sure to check the IRS website for updates, rule and eligibility changes before completing your return. Still confused contact a reputable CPA with the details about your particular situation.