Q. I’ve been helping my mother pay her bills. At what point would she be considered a dependent? Does it matter if she’s in Florida and I’m in NJ?
— Helpful

A. Your mom’s location isn’t what matters here.

The IRS requires that you meet various tests in order to take a person as a dependent on your tax return, said Steve Gallo, a certified public accountant with U.S. Financial Services in Fairfield.

He said only two of the tests matter in your case.

First, the relationship test.

“This test requires that the person in question is part of your extended family,” Gallo said. “Since we are talking about your mother, you meet this test.”

The second test is all about money.

“The second test requires that you pay more than one half of her financial support,” Gallo said. “This means that if she has income — for example Social Security, pension, interest and dividends) of $10,000, you would have to be paying bills on her behalf of at least $10,001 — more than half her support.”

He said the IRS doesn’t require a dependent to live under your roof, so the fact that she lives in Florida does not exclude you from claiming her as a dependent.

Email your questions to ask@njmoneyhelp.com.

Karin Price Mueller writes the Bamboozled column for The Star-Ledger and she’s the founder of NJMoneyHelp.com. Click here to sign up for the NJMoneyHelp.com weekly e-newsletter. Like NJMoneyHelp.com on Facebook and follow it on Twitter

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