Supporting Mom

Today TaxMama hears from Raj in Kansas who is a good husband. He tells us. “My wife and I have been supporting my mother-in-law for over a year. She is U.S. resident (Green Card holder), however could not get a Social Security number.  In order to get an SSN she needs to provide two forms of identification. They will accept her Green Card as one. However her passport from India is expired and we have been trying to get that passport renewed for over a year; and the Indian consulate is basically sitting on it.  We would like to claim her as a dependent. Can we get a taxpayer identification number and claim her as a dependent or does she have to have a SSN in order for us to claim her as a dependent?”

Dear Raj,

Mother-in-Law must be very proud of you. You are doing a good job caring for her.  But that paperwork. Don’t you just hate that stuff!

Here’s what you will need to do – either get your mother an ITIN, or a Social Security Number. Though, even the ITIN calls for identification. http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=96287,00.htmlYou will need one of those to claim her as a dependent. And since she has a green card, the SSN is the correct number to get.  Now that you have put your 2009 tax return on extension, just wait for the number. Or, if you have a large refund, file the tax return. Deposit the refund. Then, when the SSN comes through, file an amended return to claim your mother-in-law.

Unfortunately, without some appropriate identification number for your mother, the IRS  will not issue refunds; or they will adjust the balance due on your  tax return. It’s not even worth the bother to file without the number, except for a newborn babe. You have three years to file the amended return.

Don’t you have someone at home in India who has some influence? Come on. Everyone knows someone, or is related to someone, who can help. Ask around. You’ll get someone to push it through. 

Or consider getting your mother an identity card from your local Department of Motor Vehicles. That will be  a second form of identification – and will take less time than waiting for someone in India to care about her.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about getting ID numbers and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

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