Form 1040 Dependents and Exemptions Facts for 2011 Returns

by Stephen P Scott, CPA on January 20, 2012

Each individual tax return is different from another but some tax rules affect every taxpayer who files a federal income tax return. Dependents and exemptions are two such rules. Below are six important facts about dependents and exemptions that will help you file your 2011 tax return.

  1. Exemptions reduce your taxable income:
    There are two types of exemptions, personal and dependent exemptions. For each exemption you can deduct $3,700 on your 2011 tax return.
  2. 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.
  3. Exemptions for dependents:
    In general can take an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is your qualifying child or qualifying relative. You must list the Social Security number of any dependent on your form 1040 for whom you claim an exemption.
  4. 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,
    your marital status and any special taxes you owe.  Be sure to consider this for you children.
  5. If you are a dependent, you may not claim an exemption:
    If someone else, such as your parent, claims you as a dependent on their tax return, you may not claim your personal exemption on your own tax return.
  6. Who 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. There is an exception to this rule for certain adopted children. See IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information for additional tests to determine who can be claimed as a dependent.

Are you in need a tax professional?  If you are in need of professional tax services feel free to contact Stephen Scott, CPA at to setup an appointment to discuss your specific tax needs.  Scott, Scott & Co, CPA, PC is a Certified Public Accounting firm that works with middle to high income clients, small business owners, and those looking for personal service from a tax and accounting professional.

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