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Advice | Yes, parents or adult children can qualify as taxpayers. Here’s how.


The emails and phone calls I get from taxpayers are desperate.

Some are waiting refunds or any word from the IRS about a problem with a tax return going back even further.

A California taxpayer recently called my 855-ASK-POST line seeking help collecting the more than $11,000 refund owed to her for 2021. Her electronic filing was rejected, so she continued with a paper version. All that was accomplished was a letter from the IRS asking her to confirm her identity, which she did.

It is now time to file her 2022 return, and she is still waiting for that refund.

“I started seeing articles that the IRS was filing returns in a cafeteria” and had a backlog in the millions, said the taxpayer, who asked not to be identified because she was afraid to get sideways with the agency. “Every time I check it, it appears that it is being processed. And when I’ve tried calling, I can’t even get through to anyone. I pay my taxes on time every year, in full. And it is extremely aggravating that I have to sit for hours trying to reach them to get my money.

Pandemic-related return backlogs exposed a woefully understaffed desk hampered by outdated technology. While the IRS has said it has largely cleared its massive backlog of unprocessed tax returns, millions still need to be reviewed. On Dec. 30, the agency said it had received 2 million individual returns in 2022 that had yet to be processed.

Three steps to get your tax refund faster in 2023

Some help may be available for those who are unable or unwilling to be brave of the agency free line. One Saturday a month through May, dozens Taxpayer relief centers will be open for walk-ins across the country.

Taxpayers can get free help from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on February 11, March 11, April 8, and May 13 in such offices in dozens of states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. No appointments are required. Normally, the taxpayer centers are open on weekdays and by appointment.

Not every state has Saturday hours. Visit irs.gov/saturdayhours to find an office near you. If you search further irs.gov, type “IRS Face-to-Face Saturday Help” in the search field. Once you open the link, you will see a drop-down menu for the four dates. You should check the list regularly, as availability can change without notice, the agency says. Be sure to check which documents you need to bring with you.

If you owe the IRS and can’t pay, you should and shouldn’t

“These drop-in locations are critical, and funding from the Inflation Reduction Act allows us to add more workers across the country to better serve taxpayers this filing season,” said Acting IRS Commissioner Doug O’Donnell.

I recently hosted an online chat to answer readers’ tax questions. I was joined by Eric Bronnenkant, head of tax at Betterment, a digital investment consultancy. Here are his answers to remaining questions about claiming a dependent.

Q: My 22 year old grandson lived with us for seven months in 2022. Can we list him as a dependent?

Source side: It is possible to claim your grandson as a qualifying child if he has lived with you for more than half of the year. You should also give more than half his support, and he should be a full-time student. If he wasn’t a full-time student, you may be able to claim him as a qualifying relative if his gross income is less than $4,400. See IRS Publication 501 Dependents, Standard Deductions, and Filing Information, page 11.

Q: Is there an easy way to determine if my son, who graduated from college last May, is a dependent? He got a job in July and lives independently.

Source side: It is possible to claim someone as a qualifying child if he or she was a full-time student for at least five calendar months. You should also give more than half of his support.

Q: If I claim my son, who is 20 and in college, and he has earned some income in the last year, can he still apply for and get a tax refund?

Source side: A child whose only source of income is wages and who has withheld too much must file a tax return to receive a refund.

Expect smaller refunds and continued phone delays this tax season

Q: Can a parent be claimed as a dependent of an adult child?

Source side: A child can claim a parent as a dependent if the child pays more than half of the parent’s maintenance. The parent’s gross income must also be less than $4,400, which again excludes nontaxable Social Security benefits. Notably, a parent is not required to live with their adult child. This often occurs in a situation where the parent is in a nursing home.

To add to Bronnenkant’s response, IRS spokesperson Eric Smith pointed out that the tax credit for other dependents that would apply to the older dependents is smaller than the regular credit, which is generally a maximum of $ 2,000 per eligible child under the age of 17. for other dependents is a maximum of $500 per dependent.

As for the lucrative income tax credit, the dependent must be your child. So an older child who is completely and permanently disabled would qualify, not a parent, Smith said. With respect to the credit for child expenses and dependent care, a parent may be a qualifying dependent. You just need to have qualifying expenses, and they must be related to enabling your work, he added. Read IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Costs for more information.

Don’t file your taxes just yet, says IRS amid confusion over state benefits

Q: I have a demented sister who moved in with me at the end of May. She receives Social Security benefits of $1,600 a month. Can I claim it on my tax return?

Source side: A sibling can claim another sibling as a qualifying relative if the first sibling provides more than half of the other’s support. The second sibling’s gross income must also be less than $4,400 (excluding untaxed Social Security benefits). See IRS Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits, worksheet on page 6.

The baseline for determining whether a portion of Social Security benefits are taxable is $25,000 income for singles and $32,000 for couples, according to Smith.

“So if your only income comes from Social Security, or if you have little income in addition to your Social Security, there’s usually no tax on these benefits,” Smith said.

Q: What additional tax benefits am I eligible to pay for home nursing or assisted living expenses?

Source side: Qualified medical expenses are an itemized deduction of more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income. The IRS states, “This includes services related to the care of the patient’s condition, such as giving medications or changing dressings, as well as bathing and caring for the patient. These services can be provided at your home or at another healthcare facility.” See IRS Publication 502, Medical and Dental Expenses, page 12.

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