Claiming an adult relative as a dependent
If you itemize your expenses on your tax return, you may be able to claim as a dependent an adult relative for whom you're providing care. That way, you could deduct their medical and dental expenses, use the dependent care credit, or apply a $500 tax credit for dependents other than children.
Your relative will need to pass several tests to determine if he or she is a “qualifying relative" who can be claimed as a dependent. For instance, the relative's gross income typically can't exceed $4,200 for 2019. One caveat: “this [limit] generally doesn't include exempt income, such as many Social Security benefits," says Donald Pedersen, a Shawano, Wisconsin-based shareholder with the accounting firm Kerber Rose. And, you must have paid more than half the annual cost of your relative's support, including food, lodging, and medical expenses.
Even if your relative is a “qualifying relative," you may claim an exemption only if he or she is a citizen, national, or resident alien of the United States.
A note for single filers: if you're caring for a qualified dependent, you may qualify for head of household status. This would increase your standard deduction from $12,200 to $18,350, and move you into more favorable tax brackets, Pedersen says. To qualify as a head of household, you must meet several tests. Among them: you must be unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.