Can You Claim a Disabled Spouse on Income Taxes?

Living with a disabled spouse can pose significant financial difficulties. The IRS and the tax code provide support to these families through deductions and credits. To achieve these deductions, you will need to file jointly with your spouse. Filing jointly will allow you to take your spouse's medical expense deduction and claim the dependent care credit to offset your tax liability.


Married Filing Jointly

There are two methods by which married couples can file their taxes: jointly and separately. When a couple files jointly, they combine each spouse's economic activity for the year and the IRS treats the couple as one taxable entity. If you file separately, you and your spouse report income and deductions on separate returns and deductions earned jointly are divided between the two. For the benefit of claiming as many tax deductions and credits as possible related to a disabled spouse, it is in your best interest to file jointly.


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Medical Expense Deductions

When you file jointly with your spouse, you can claim the medical expenses related to her disability as a deduction on your return. Medical expenses include any costs tied to diagnosing, curing, treating or preventing diseases. Some medical expenses, such as household help and nursing services, are not deductible as a medical expense. In any given tax year, you can only deduct for the services you paid for out of your own pocket. Expenses paid for by insurance are not deductible. The deduction is the total amount of your spouse's medical expenses minus 7.5 percent of your current year adjusted gross income. To claim the medical expense deduction, you will need to itemize your deductions. Complete Schedule A to calculate your medical expense deductions.


Dependent Care Credit

The dependent care credit is a benefit that allows you to decrease your tax liability by up to 35 percent of qualified care expenses. How much of your qualified expenditures will be able to be used for the credit depends on how much you make during the tax year. The more you make, the lower the percentage. To qualify for the credit, your spouse must not be able to care for herself. The expenses you can deduct must be related to the care your spouse receives while you were either working or out looking for work. To apply for the credit, complete Form 2441,and use a Form 1040, 1040A or 1040NR for your return.


Tax Tips and Disclaimer

For complex returns, consult with a tax professional, such as a certified public accountant or licensed attorney, as he can best address your individual needs. Keep your tax records for at least seven years, to protect against the possibility of future audits. Every effort has been made to ensure this article's accuracy, but it is not intended to be legal advice.



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