The #1 question Taxsmith hears on a daily basis is “who can I claim as a dependent on my tax return.” While each individual tax return is unique, there are some tax rules that affect every person who files a federal income tax return. These rules involve dependents and exemptions. The IRS recently released six important facts about dependents and exemptions…
1. Exemptions reduce taxable income. There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. You can deduct $3,800 for each exemption you claim on your 2012 tax return. The exemption amount normally changes every year.
2. Personal exemptions. You usually may claim one exemption for yourself on your tax return. You also can claim one for your spouse if you are married and file a joint return. If you and your spouse file separate returns, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if he or she had no gross income, is not filing a joint return and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.
3. Exemptions for dependents. Generally, you can claim an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is either your qualifying child or qualifying relative. If you are married, you may not claim your spouse as your dependent. You must list the Social Security Number of each dependent you claim on your return. There are special rules for claiming a dependent who does not have a Social Security Number.
4. Some people do not qualify as dependents. While there are some exceptions, you generally may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse.
5. Dependents may have to file. If you can claim someone else as your dependent on your tax return, that person may still be required to file his or her own tax return. Whether they must file a return depends on several factors, including the amount of their gross income (both earned and unearned income), their marital status and any special taxes they owe.
6. Dependents can’t claim a personal exemption. If you can claim another person as a dependent on your tax return, that person may not claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you do not actually claim that person as your dependent on your tax return. The fact that you could claim that person disqualifies them from claiming a personal exemption.
Remember that a person must meet several tests in order for you to claim them as your dependent. See Publication 501 for the tests you will use to determine if you can claim a person as your dependent. If you have additional tax questions Taxsmith professional can help. Please contact us at 888.741.0272 FREE or at firstname.lastname@example.org.