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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby teiji » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:20 am

Here's the facts:

My wife and I got married in December 2010, and we were both still in college. I graduated in May 2011 and started my job in that same month (so I worked from May 2011 until the end of the year). My wife didn't graduate until July 2011 and came home that month (she went to school in another state). When she came home, we stayed at my parents house. We recently just moved to our own place, and so we lived with my parents from July 2011 until January 2012.

My wife wasn't able to get a job until December 2011, and only technically worked 2 weeks in 2011, and made about $550. From the time she got home in July, I fully supported her financially.

My father-in-law would like to claim her as a dependent and have us file "married filing separately" so he can claim her because he thinks that he supported her for "more than half the year". From January 2011 to the begining of July 2011. Can he do that? Is he right in doing that?

I'm very concerned because if I file "married filing separately", then I will owe quite a bit in taxes.
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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby bing » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:25 am

If you file jointly with your wife, as your are legally able to do, he cannot claim her. Doesn't matter what he thinks or what he would like. Ask him why you should owe money so he can get more back?
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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby stiles » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:31 am

I don't think so. I certainly wouldn't allow it.
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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby delano » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:39 am

No. If someone is eligible to file a joint return with their spouse, they cannot be claimed as a dependent by anyone.

(OK, there is one exception to that rule, but that would be if the married person is ONLY filing a return to get back all the taxes that were withheld from their checks. You don't fall into that category.)
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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby erhardt54 » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:46 am

You and your wife are in the driver's seat here. The ONLY way that he can claim her as a dependent (for 2010 or 2011) if you file a joint return is if the ONLY reason that you file is to receive a full refund of all federal income taxes that were withheld from your wages AND you both would have had $0 federal income tax liability on separate returns.

If your income is less than $9,500 it won't hurt to file MFS and let him claim her. If you earned more than that, you WILL owe tax. If you earned the filing requirement amount for a joint return ($19,000) you'll owe $1,000 if you file MFS or $0 if you file MFJ. The more that you earned, the worse it will be for you.

If you and your spouse file MFJ, his claim will be denied as a matter of routine if your income is over $9,500. There's NO way that he can force you to file MFS.

If you want, offer him a compromise if your spouse agrees. Figure your taxes both ways and show him how much more it will cost you. If he gives you AT LEAST that much UP FRONT, file MFS and he can claim her. If he refuses, file MFJ and let him fuss.
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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby rene » Tue Feb 21, 2012 11:58 am

That is some CRAZY stuff right there!!!! So ... her father would rather you two filed "married filing separate" which is going to put YOU in one of the highest possible tax brackets so HE can UN-RIGHTFULLY, (since she did not live with him AT ALL through the 2011 tax year) claim her on his taxes so he will have a lesser responsibility?? Absolutely NOT! You two are MARRIED! You need to file together, (married filing joint is one of the lowest tax brackets), and get back what is owed to you!! As parents, we all need to let go when the time comes and not use our children to our financial advantage but, instead, look out for THEIR financial gain and stability!! That is, obviously, something this father has not yet learned!!
Best wishes to you both!
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Can my father-in-law claim my wife as a dependent?

Postby fyfe » Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:05 pm

It's her call. She can file a joint return with you, or can let her dad claim her. She's considered to have lived with him over half the year, until she got out of school.

Either way is legal. There's no right or wrong issue here.
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