Parenting a Parent: Filing Taxes for Elderly Parents

Tax season is upon us, and Great Care is here to provide some helpful pointers for those caregivers who may be helping their parents file before the April 17, 2018, deadline.

The first question many in the elderly population and their caregivers may ask is, “When do seniors on Social Security stop filing taxes?” According to TurboTax, the IRS requires people file tax returns when their gross income exceeds the sum of the standard deduction for a filing status plus one exemption amount. These filing rules still apply to senior citizens who are living on Social Security benefits.

”If you are a senior, however, you don’t count your Social Security income as gross income,” says TurboTax. “If Social Security is your sole source of income, then you don’t need to file a tax return.”

TurboTax reminds that if you are unmarried and at least 65 years of age, then you must file an income tax return if your gross income is $11,850 or more. However, if you live on Social Security benefits, you don’t include this in gross income.

“If this is the only income you receive, then your gross income equals zero, and you don’t have to file a federal income tax return. But if you do earn other income that is not tax-exempt, then each year you must determine whether the total exceeds $11,950,” the tax service reports. “If you are married and file a joint return with a spouse who is also 65 or older, you must file a return if your combined gross income is $23,300 or more. If your spouse is under 65 years old, then the threshold amount decreases to $22,050. Keep in mind that these income thresholds only apply to the 2017 tax year, and generally increase slightly each year.”

TurboTax reminds taxpayers that if they cared for an elderly parent, those parents may qualify as dependents, meaning additional tax benefits.

”Your parent must first meet income requirements set by the Internal Revenue Service to be claimed as your dependent. To qualify as a dependent, your parent must not have earned or received more than the exemption amount for the tax year,” TurboTax says.

“This amount is determined by the IRS and may change from year to year. Current exemption amounts can be found in IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Generally, you do not count Social Security income, but there are exceptions. If your parent has other income from interest or dividends, a portion of the Social Security may also be taxable.”

To claim a parent as a dependent, caregivers must have provided more than half of their parent’s support during the tax year. The IRS says when determining the monetary value of the amount of support provided, consider several factors:

• Calculate the fair market value of the room your parent occupies in your home. Ask yourself how much rent you could charge a tenant for the space.

• Next, consider the cost of food that you provide. Don’t forget to include utilities, medical bills and general living expenses that you also pay.

• Compare the value of support you provide with any income, including Social Security, that your parent receives to determine whether you meet the support requirement. The amount of support you provided must exceed your parent’s income by at least one dollar.

And what if you are a caregiver who has paid for some of your parent’s medical expenses? Can you deduct these expenses on your return? The IRS says yes, if your parent was your dependent either at the time the medical services were provided or at the time you paid the expenses.

You may claim a deduction for the portion of their expenses that you paid, and include medical expenses you paid for an individual that would have been your dependent except that:

• He or she received gross income of $4,050 or more in 2017,
• He or she filed a joint return for the year, or
• You, or your spouse if filing jointly, are properly claimed as a dependent on someone else’s return.
• Deduct the medical expenses on Schedule A (Form 1040), Itemized • Deductions. Reduce the total of all allowable medical expenses by 7.5% of your adjusted gross income.

For more information on filing taxes for caregivers, visit:


The professionals at Great Care are available to talk with you and your family about all of your home care needs, including respite care. Great Care is a non-medical in-home care agency providing quality and affordable elder care in Fishers, IN and the surrounding areas. Call (888) 240-9101 for more information.

About Julie S.

Julie Sullivan is the Owner at Great Care of Indianapolis, Indiana.
Great Care is a licensed, personal services agency, providing in-home care services to the Indianapolis, Indiana and surrounding areas. We serve the personal health and daily care needs of seniors or individuals who prefer to stay at home, but require assistance with everyday activities, such as dressing, personal hygiene, meal preparation, laundry or errands. Our team of certified nurse aids and home health aids can provide you with personalized, in-home care services to meet your needs, including:
• Daytime hourly in-home care
• Temporary or post-hospital respite care
• 24-hour, around-the-clock home care
• Morning and evening care
• Overnight / Slumber care
In addition, we offer our Care Compass service, to assist in setting the course for the next stage in your loved ones life. We guide you through the currents of aging, and help you find your true north. Our licensed nurses, with experience in hospice and geriatric care, will help guide you through the complex and often sensitive journey of selecting an in-home care service, and will provide a smooth transition to a new way of life for your loved one, without the anxiety and fear.
Our current nursing and management team has more than 75 years of combined experience in the home healthcare services industry. All of our caregivers are bonded, insured and screened thoroughly, so you know you’ll be receiving the greatest care possible. That’s why we stand by our mission: to deliver the same, quality care we expect for ourselves and our loved ones.