February 13, 2013
Some tax rules affect every person who may have to file a federal income tax return; these rules include dependents and exemptions. Here are some important facts about dependents and exemptions that will help you file your tax return.
Exemptions reduce your taxable income. "There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents." explained Paul Stanley of eTax.com "For each exemption you may be eligible for a deduction."
Your spouse is never considered your dependent. On a joint return, you may claim one exemption for yourself and one for your spouse. If you're filing a separate return, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if they had no gross income, are not filing a joint return, and were not the dependent of another taxpayer.
You generally can take an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is your qualifying child or qualifying relative. A "qualifying child" may enable a taxpayer to claim several tax benefits, such as head of household filing status, the exemption for a dependent, the child tax credit, the child and dependent care credit and the earned income tax credit. A qualifying child includes your children or siblings (including step, half or foster) or a descendant of any of them. A qualifying child must be younger than age 19 at the end of the year or younger than 24 and a full-time student.You must list the social security number of any dependent for whom you claim an exemption.
If someone else claims you as a dependent, you may still be required to file your own tax return. Whether you must file a return depends on several factors including the amount of your unearned, earned or gross income. If you are a dependent, you may not claim an exemption. If someone else - such as your parent - claims you as a dependent, you may not claim your personal exemption on your own tax return.
Some people cannot be claimed as your dependent. Generally, you may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse. Also, to claim someone as a dependent, that person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year.
So be sure to check and see if you're eligible for a dependent deduction by visiting; Who is considered a qualified dependent? on eTax.com