So very taxing

IT'S TAX SEASON, and again this year, I'm using a popular web-based tax preparation program. As I was estimating the damage entering our info today, I decided to take advantage of their on-line community to search questions and answers posted by other users to  see if I could clarify something I found a little bit confusing.


I know what you're thinking – it's redundant to say "taxes" and "confusing" in the same sentence! But you know what they say – misery loves company – and there were plenty of equally confused citizens seeking clarity in the Q&A message board.  Luckily, my question was straightforward and I was able to confirm my hunch. But as I browsed, another question caught my eye: 


Maybe it's just me, but that question seems to be oozing with lots more than a simple inquiry about a potential tax deduction. I sense frustration with a note of accusation. Impatience. One informed citizen weighed in (copied verbatim, typos and all):

If he meets the following criterea he can be claimed as a dependent 

The person must:

1) Not be the taxpayer’s or anyone else’s qualifying child. 

2) Either (a) live with the taxpayer all year as a member of his household or (b) be related to the taxpayer.

3) Have gross income less than $3,650.

The taxpayer must provide more than half of the person’s total support for the year.

Now, a scene is developing inside my head. A skinny woman with long, stringy hair sits on a barstool in a cramped apartment, frantically typing her question into her old laptop which is perched atop the paper-strewn breakfast bar. Her back is to the living room, where her boyfriend is sitting on the sofa. Again. He's wearing sweats and an old black "Motley Crue" T-shirt, has holes in his unmatched socks, is swilling cheap beer from a 40-ounce can, his feet propped on a black laquered coffee table. With his big toe, he nudges aside a crumpled, empty bag of Combos, the better to view whatever's on the tube. Crumbs and a lone, uneaten Combo spill onto the table.

"AHA!" She yells.

Boyfriend belches. "KEEP IT DOWN," he growls. "I can't hear the teevee."

"THIS IS IMPORTANT!" she snarls back. "It says right here, you ARE good for something – I can take a tax deduction for you NOT WORKING!"

With this scene in my mind, I continued reading more of the responses to the question, imagining the reaction of my fictional taxpayer:

yes u can if u was takin care of him all year and if he is under 22

"I WAS takin' care of him," the lady thinks to herself. "But he's…24. Crap." 

I claim my boyfriend and he is over 22. As long as he fits the criteria mentioned, he qualifies as a dependent.

"Well there you go!, she thinks. "Cha-CHING!" She reads on:

what if that boyfriend is 28 years old as of dec 31, 2010, has state medical assistance, and food stamps?

"WOW, now there's a helluva scenario," she thinks. "What if…?"

"….The taxpayer must provide more than half of the person’s total support for the year" in reference to claiming a boyfriend as a dependent, what paperwork exactly is needed to support this?

"Right – how do you PROVE it?"

Can i be claimed by my bf if i meet all those criteria but made $4200 myself and he helped support my two children?

"Well, at least he helped you with the kids, sister."

What if I claim him and he owes money for student loans, will they take my tax return????

"What do his student loans have to do with it?"

i have a boyfriend thats in jail that i have been supporting for about 3 years now can i claim him

"WHOA," she thinks. "At least I'm not supporting a convict! That lady's got it BAD!"

She exits out of the message board and enters the information to claim her boyfriend as a dependent, turning her running total into a modest tax refund. "Maybe this year will be better," she thinks as she closes her laptop. She's feeling a little bit better about things; those comments on the message board helped. After all, misery loves company.


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