8

I have supported my parent for most of the year and paid for everything. Housing/food/transportation and other things. So I want to claim them on my taxes.

My concern is this:

They have a large amount of medical debt and I want to know if I would be liable for their debt if I claimed them on my taxes.

Update:

For some added context the person in question was homeless and I provided a place for them to stay. I have not signed anything that would make me responsible for this person debt directly. I am not a cosigner on any documents. I am also not the "Legal" guardian of this person. Though I do have some power of attorney due to their speech being affect by multiple strokes I am able to speak with medical professionals on their behalf if they are unable to.

My only concern in this question is this:

Can just the act of claiming someone on your taxes somehow allow medical bills to become your responsibility?

6

I am not a lawyer.

The issue revolves around answering a series of questions: Have you signed anything that assigns financial responsibility to you regarding their debts? Due to a disability they have, are you a guardian of your parents? Do you have power-of-attorney?

For medical debt are you listed as the responsible party for their health coverage? Did the medical bills get charged to a credit card that you are an authorized user?

For non-medical debt such as a car loan, are you a cosigner?

Short of this sort of assignment, your parents are responsible for their own debts, even if they rely on you for financial support.

  • I guess I could add more context. Give me a min. – Mike - SMT Jan 11 at 12:53
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    Isn't the question specifically about taxes, independently of those other issues? i.e. if the OP wasn't responsible for his parent's debts otherwise, will he become responsible if he claims the parent on his taxes? (I assume not but I don't know US law well enough to be sure) – Ganesh Sittampalam Jan 11 at 12:54
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    The answer above is, in my not-a-lawyer opinion, pretty accurate. I'd like to add that debt collectors may try to convince you that you are, in fact, responsible for someone else's debt, either ethically or legally. Remember that their job is to get someone to pay - you are only responsible for what you agree to, and (in general) can't be forced to take on more than that. Be on your guard against this sort of behavior. Even if you were a guardian, in general you may only be responsible for disbursing funds already owned, not for contributing your own. – Istanari Jan 11 at 14:08
  • @Istanari yes I am familiar with this tactic. I have received several letters asking me to pay implying its my responsibility but not outright saying "I specifically" ow them. I have already dealt with these and I no longer receive mail from these bill sharks. – Mike - SMT Jan 11 at 14:48

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