Question

I only have a few months of employment and unemployment income this year. Should I claim myself on taxes and my children as well, or let my fiancé claim us?

Answer

You really don’t have much choice. If you qualify as a dependent of someone else, you cannot claim your own exemption, even if that person does not claim you.

You can be claimed as a dependent by your fiancé under the qualifying relative rules if all these apply:

  • You lived with your fiancé the entire year.
  • Your income is less than $4,150.
  • He provided more than half your support.

Since you aren’t a blood relative, he can’t claim you for the head of household filing status.

Whether your fiance can claim your children, however, is a separate matter. For your fiancé to do so, your children can’t be your qualifying children. Since you all live together, it’s very likely they are. This is the case even if you don’t provide most of their support. The qualifying child support test only requires that the children don’t provide more than half their own support.

However, if you aren’t considered a taxpayer, then your fiancé potentially can claim your children. You aren’t considered a taxpayer if one of these is true:

  • You aren’ required to file a return, and you don’t do so.
  • You aren’t required to file a return, but you do file only to claim a refund of all taxes withheld.

Even if you aren’t a taxpayer, the children must still qualify as your fiancé’s dependents by meeting the same three tests for qualifying relatives. They are:

  • They lived with your fiancé the entire year.
  • Their income is less than $4,150
  • He provided more than half their support.

Also, your fiancé won’t be able to use your children to claim head of household status.

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