How to Claim Your Girlfriend on Your Taxes If She Lives With You

Updated on March 7, 2020
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Can I claim my girlfriend on my taxes?.
Can I claim my girlfriend on my taxes?. | Source

Updated for 2018 taxes. Around tax time, men who support their girlfriends or fiancées often ask, "Can I claim my girlfriend on my taxes?" The good news is you might be able to claim her, as well as any children of hers that you are fully supporting. You could also get a nice refund from this.

The Census Bureau reported that there are almost 5 million opposite-sex couples living together without marriage. Some of these relationships undoubtedly have one partner supporting the other, or especially if one partner is a college student or a homemaker.

So, the answer is yes, you can claim your girlfriend or fiancée on your taxes provided she meets certain qualifications. Here is how to do it. Included also is an estimate of how much you can get back from the IRS for claiming your girlfriend.

Can I Claim My Girlfriend on My Taxes?

The answer is yes, if:

  1. Cohabitation between unmarried, unrelated men and women is legal in your state. It is against the law in Florida, Michigan, Mississippi, and Virginia for unmarried opposite-sex couples to live together. Even though the laws are not enforced, the IRS does not want to entertain the violation of any state laws, even on paper. So if you live in one of those four states, you will not be able to claim her. In the 46 other states, unmarried cohabitation will not keep you from being able to claim her.
  2. Your girlfriend or fiancée is not required to file her own tax form. This means she must have made less than $3,800 in income from all sources (such as wages, unemployment, tips, dividends) or if she is a freelancer or independent contractor (for example sells products on eBay, gives piano lessons, etc.), she must have made less than $600. Unfortunately, the IRS has a low income threshold for small business filings! She will be aware of how much income she made based on the 1099-MISC or 1099-K forms that are sent to her during tax time.
  3. She lived with you all year, and you supported her all year. Basically, if you fed her, sheltered her, and clothed her during the entire 12-month period, that is a yes. If she was a student she can still have received financial aid for school, such as Pell grants and state grants, without it affecting your taxes.
  4. She is not claimed as a dependent on anyone else's tax forms. This means her parents, ex-husband, grown children, etc., cannot claim her, and she cannot claim an exemption for herself either (if she chose to fill out a tax form anyway).

How Do I Claim My Girlfriend or Fiancee on My Taxes?

As part of the tax reform bill that goes into effect for tax years 2018 and beyond, you would utilize the Credit For other Dependents for your girlfriend. This is a new $500 personal tax credit:

  • You get $500 for each qualifying dependent.
  • The credit is nonrefundable, meaning it can only be used to reduce your tax bill, but not give you money back.
  • You can claim it on line 12 of the 2018 Form 1040.
  • The phaseout for this credit begins for taxpayers with an AGI of $200,000.

You can also get the American Opportunity Tax Credit or AOTC if you paid for your girlfriend's college tuition while she lived with you. This tax credit can refund you up to $1,000.

How Much Can I Get Back from the IRS If I Claim My Girlfriend and Her Child as Dependents?

In addition to the $500 tax credit, you might be able to claim her children too.

  • The new Child Tax Credit is worth $1000 to $2000.
  • This tax credit is refundable up to $1400, meaning you can get this money back from the IRS if you owe no other Federal taxes.
  • To get this credit you would need to be the child's father by any legal definition. No one else can claim the child on their taxes in the year you wish to claim it.

Child Tax Credit vs. Earned Income Tax Credit

These are separate tax credits, and you can claim them both if you have a low income, as the EITC is for lower income families. You can get these credits if you are the father of your girlfriend's child by any legal definition and no one else attempts to take the credit.

  • As a single filer, you can earn up to $39,617 annually to qualify for the EITC with one child.
  • Or if you have two children, to claim the EITC you can earn up to $45,007 annually.
  • The credits are given to you based on a sliding scale, meaning you will get less of the credit the closer to the maximum allowed earnings you make.
  • You can get back up to $3,400 with one qualifying child, or $5,616 with two qualifying children.
  • The EITC is fully refundable.

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What You Need to Know About Claiming a Girlfriend or Boyfriend

  • This same information applies to women who ask if they can claim their boyfriend on their taxes.
  • Unmarried same-sex couples could possibly claim each other more easily, as there are fewer laws against unrelated people of the same sex living together.
  • You can also get tax credits for paying for your dependent's college education, as long as you receive the tax forms in your name from the educational institution.
  • You cannot get a student loan interest deduction for your girlfriend if the student loan is not in your name to begin with. Some partners help their girlfriends pay back their loans as a personal favor, but in the eyes of the tax man only a debtor can earn a benefit from a debt.
  • Marriage still allows more benefits, such as shared healthcare plans, IRAs for non-working spouses, and shared deductions across most categories when filing jointly.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • My girlfriend qualifies as my dependent. but she has a child but im not the father. can i claim him also if he lives with us?

    You might be able to claim him as a "qualifying relative", and choose "other" for the relationship as a non-relative. This is if the child lived with you all year as a member of your household. You will not be be able to claim the EITC, however. If you get married this year, you should be able to get this large tax credit next year for the child.

  • If I claim my girlfriend as a dependant and she owes child support what do I need to file in order for them not to take my taxes because they are not my obligation?

    Since you are not married to each other I do not believe your tax return payment could be affected.

  • Can I claim my 18-year-old fiance on my taxes?

    Yes, if she meets the circumstances in the article.

  • Can I claim both my girlfriend and my child at the same time?

    Yes, you should be able to do this if they both live with you.

  • What proof do you have to show the IRS in order to claim a girlfriend or boyfriend that lives with you on your taxes?

    You normally do not have to show the IRS proof unless you are audited, but there should be some kind of trail leading back to your address, such as mail being delivered to your home in the claimed person's name as well as having the same address on a state ID or driver's license.

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  • Stove And Home profile imageAUTHOR

    Stove And Home 

    6 years ago

    I wish I could help you!

  • profile image


    6 years ago

    Hi I need a girlfreind


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