Do we file taxes on income for caring for Mom?

1 answer | Last updated: Apr 27, 2010
A fellow caregiver asked...

I just found this site today and feel alot of relief in finding so many other people in the same boat as I am. Since moving in with my mom and taking care of her, she gives me money to help with my expenses, I had to resign from my job to take full time care of her. My question, do I have to record what she gives me and file income tax on this? I don't need more stress worring about getting into some trouble with the IRS. Thanks to anyone out there that may know the answer and can help me.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

 It’s understandable that you worry about the IRS coming after you: It is widely known to be a diligent and threatening agent in chasing down funds—and getting them.

A couple taxing thoughts come immediately to mind. Your mother can give you $12,000 per year, free of any gift tax, but the costs of living being what they are, that might not get you too far. Another possibility would be for your mother to pay you as a household employee.  A W-2 would need to be issued and she would be paying some employment-related taxes.

Although the IRS widely has the reputation as being formidable and confounding—and there are stories to prove it’s earned it, it does print a number of consumer publications that are refreshingly straightforward and easy to read. You can find those that best fit your situation at

Once fortified by that information, however, I would urge you to consult a local reputable tax expert or financial planner. And this is not passing the buck as much as is may sound. It’s just that you—and your mom—are now pinned in a precarious place financially. Best to get someone to eyeball both your financial stances—and the IRS returns you’ve filed for the last few years—and figure out how to go down the path more sanely together.

The best steps for you to take depend on many things: whether she owns her home, when and whether she might qualify for Medicaid or other government programs, how you and she both hold valuable property, such as a home or large bank or savings account.

Finding the best expert financial planner, especially one versed in elder affairs, may take a bit of sleuthwork. If you have a friend or acquaintance who has had a good experience with such a soul, that’s a good place to start. Other possibilities for referrals: local senior centers, your local Department on Aging, a CPA or attorney you have come to know and trust.