Mooching brother-in-law? Get tax reward

Q. My wife’s unemployed brother lives with us. Can we claim him as a dependent if he’s over age 25? Anonymous

A. Maybe. There’s no age limit for dependents, although the tax rules are more favorable for young children. To claim your wife’s brother as a dependent, you must provide more than half of his annual support and he can’t have gross income in excess of the personal exemption amount. The personal exemption amount for 2012 is $3,800. Note that the value of food and lodging counts as “support” for this first part of the test.

Tip: Beginning in 2013, the tax benefit of personal exemptions is scheduled to be reduced or eliminated by a phaseout rule for higher-income taxpayers.