Taxes are a pain in the ass. If you're anything like me, you've been putting it off. April 15th is merely a suggestion, right?
Your parents see you as grown up enough for you to file on your own, but not grown enough to stop claiming you on their own taxes. If you want to use their accountant, they're gonna make you pay for it yourself and then there goes your whole refund.
Not to mention all the forms you had to collect like your W-2 for those 2 weeks you worked at Taco Bell Cantina on State before walking out after learning how much damage drunk students wreak on porcelain, the month tricked into washing glassware at your professor’s lab with the promise of doing “groundbreaking research”, and those pesky 1099s from when you thought you could make bank last summer doing Doordash, Uber, Grubhub, Lyft, and Instacart all at the same time before your car broke down from the workload.
Fortunately most of us are underpaid enough to hit the tax bracket where we don’t actually have to pay. Then an extra thousand bucks or so in your refund for being a college student. Suddenly getting your taxes done seems kinda exciting because at the end you get a fat chunk of cash. But what if there's more ways to get a bigger refund?
At this point, you’re probably regretting springing for the name brand Plan B. But what if there was a way to still claim a dependent on your taxes without a wailing baby?
When you think about it, your roommate is pretty dependent on you. They don’t clean up after themselves, you have to remind them that their quiz is due at midnight, and of course you take care of them when they’re sick (puking after 2 seltzers). Shouldn’t you claim them on your taxes?
The first step is to get your parents to stop claiming you on their taxes. Unfortunately this may jeopardize your Uber and Amazon accounts, but just spew some nonsense about how you’re finally growing up. Then be sure your roommate’s parents aren’t claiming them. Take their phone when they’re passed out by the toilet next Thursday night and text their parents the same garbage you gave your parents.
Next, there are 4 requirements to make someone eligible to be claimed:
Are they related to you? The IRS lists a bunch of qualifying categories like child, sibling, step-child or step-sibling. However, the one you want to look for is ‘Adopted Child’. Of course, you haven’t legally adopted your roommate, but for all intents and purposes, you basically became their primary caregiver as soon as their parents moved them in. It’s kinda like their parents gave you their child to take care of. Sounds like adoption to me. Of course, you’re missing the paperwork for this, but does the IRS really care if it’s not a tax form?
Age requirement. Normally, the age requirement requires them to be under 19 to be eligible. However, there is an exception for full-time college students, which bumps it up to under 24. Of course, the key component to make this work is being a full-time student. So if your roommate wants to drop that class that will take them to 11 credits because their TA isn’t as hot as last semester’s, be sure to give them that pep talk to keep them enrolled.
Living requirement. This one is pretty simple. They just have to live with you for at least half the year. We’ve got 9 months easy, which gives you plenty of wiggle room to account for Winter Break or your roommate moving in with their partner of 2 months for a stint of time before they break up.
Financial Support. This last one can be kinda tricky. It requires you to provide more than half their support. You guys split rent (even though THEIR room is bigger), but you can make it work. If you’re the one that makes the payment to the landlord and they just Venmo you back, then you have bank records of you paying the entire rent. Just make sure your roommate isn’t paying through Goods and Services, otherwise the IRS will collect on all those rent payments. There’s a good chance that their rent payments alone don’t make up half of their expenses in the year. This same strategy can be applied to groceries, utilities, and any other shared expenses. You could even hide their debit or credit cards, so they have to ask you to cover the payment for the Venmo in return. However, one of their largest annual expenses is tuition. If they’re paying out of state tuition, then you’re just kind of screwed. Luckily, the IRS only asks for documentation during an audit, so just fib a little and check the box that says you provide for more than half their expenses and pray the IRS doesn’t look too closely.
That’s all the requirements for you to claim your messy roommate as a dependent on your taxes. Next time you’re stuck cleaning up their room for them because you have company coming over and the stench is starting to leak into the living room, just start looking around for their social security card. If you can’t find it, then with how careless they are, there’s a good chance they have it unsecured in their Notes app!