Before you file your taxes this year, check with your tax specialist to see if these deductions or credits apply to you.
Claiming your loved one as a "dependent." This requires that he or she
- is related to you or lived with you all year. A "relative" is anyone in your family, including stepparents and in-laws;
- had a gross income of less than $3700 in 2011. "Income" includes Social Security and pension benefits. Also, distributions from retirement savings and investments;
- is supported by you. You paid at least 50% of his or her annual expenses for basics (food, shelter, clothing…).
A dependent can be claimed by only one family member.
Getting a tax credit for dependent care. This applies if
- your loved one cannot care for himself or herself;
- he or she is your dependent or would qualify as your dependent but had too much income or filed a joint return (with a spouse);
- he or she lived with you for more than half the year;
- you need to pay someone to provide care so you can work.