Important Facts about Dependents and Exemptions

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Nearly everyone who files a tax return is entitled to a freebie tax deduction called an exemption. If you are married or claim dependents on your return, you get additional exemptions and a bigger deduction from income. For 2013, you are allowed to deduct $3,900 for each exemption claimed on your federal return.

There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and dependent exemptions. We'll explain the two types of exemptions and also answer some questions you might have.

Personal Exemptions

You can generally claim one exemption for yourself. If you are married and file a joint return, you can also claim one exemption for your spouse. In certain situations, you may be allowed to claim your spouse's exemption on a separate return.

Can I claim my spouse as a dependent?

You cannot claim your spouse as a dependent. Claiming your spouse's exemption is different than claiming your spouse as a dependent, but the effect on the return is the same. The exemption is $3,900 regardless of whether it's a personal exemption or a dependent exemption.

Can I claim my own exemption if someone else can claim me as a dependent?

If someone else can claim you as a dependent, then you cannot claim a personal exemption on your return. The rule applies even if the other person does not actually claim you.

Dependent Exemptions

You can claim one exemption for each person claimed as a dependent on your return but several tests must be met in order to claim someone as a dependent. If you are not sure whether you can claim someone as a dependent, use the interactive Dependent Quiz in TaxAct's Federal Q&A to guide you through the IRS rules.

Does my dependent have to file a return?

A separate return must be filed for a dependent if filing requirements are met. Generally, a dependent is required to file a return if he or she had more than $6,100 of wage or other earned income, or if total interest, dividend, and capital gain income was more than $1,000. Several other factors must also be taken into account, such as age, filing status and any special taxes that may apply.

Can I enter my dependent's income on my return?

You generally cannot include your dependent's income on your return. An exception to this rule allows you to include the dependent's investment income on your return in certain situations. Investment income for this exception includes interest, dividends and capital gain distributions.

Claiming Exemptions on Your Return

With TaxAct, your exemptions are calculated automatically as you complete your return. We'll also guide you through other tax benefits that might apply to make sure you claim everything you're entitled to and get the biggest refund possible.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

April 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during March, report them to your employer. You can use Form 4070.

April 15 — Individuals
File a 2018 income tax return (Form 1040) and pay any tax due. If you want an automatic 6 month extension of time to file the return, file Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. For more information, see Form 4868. Then, file Form 1040 by October 15.

April 15 — Corporations
File a 2018 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120) and pay any tax due. Details

April 15 — Individuals
If you are not paying your 2019 income tax through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax during the year that way), pay the first installment of your 2019 estimated tax. Use Form 1040ES.

April 15 — Household Employers
If you paid cash wages of $2,000 or more in 2018 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H Details

April 15 — Corporations
Deposit the first installment of estimated income tax for 2018 Details

April 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in March.

April 15 — Household employers
If you paid cash wages of $2,000 or more in 2018 to a household employee, you must file Schedule H (Form 1040). If you are required to file a federal income tax return (Form 1040), file Schedule H (Form 1040) with the return and report any household employment taxes. Report any federal unemployment (FUTA) tax on Schedule H (Form 1040) if you paid total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter of 2017 or 2018 to household employees. Also, report any income tax you withheld for your household employees.

April 30 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the first quarter of 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is less than $2,500, you can pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the quarter timely, properly, and in full, you have until May 10 to file the return.

April 30 — Federal unemployment tax.
Deposit the tax owed through March if more than $500.

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