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

January 1 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (New Year's Day) Details

January 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer Details

January 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2018 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES Details

January 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2018

January 15 — Farmers & fishermen
Pay your estimated tax for 2018 using Form 1040-ES Details

January 21 — Everyone
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January 31 — All Employers
Give your employees their copies of Form W2 for 2018. If an employee agreed to receive Form W2 electronically, have it posted on a website and notify the employee of the posting.

January 31 — Individuals who must make estimated tax payments
If you did not pay your last installment of estimated tax by January 15, you may choose (but are not required) to file your income tax return (Form 1040) for 2017 by January 31. Filing your return and paying any tax due by January 31 prevents any penalty for late payment of the last installment. If you cannot file and pay your tax by January 31, file and pay your tax by April 15.

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If you either paid reportable gambling winnings or withheld income tax from gambling winnings, give the winners their copies of Form W2G.

January 31 — Social Security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
File Form 941 for the fourth 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 02-10 to file the return.

January 31 — Certain small employers
File Form 944 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 2018. Deposit or pay any undeposited tax under the accuracy of deposit rules. If your tax liability is $2,500 or more for 2018 but less than $2,500 for the fourth quarter, deposit any undeposited tax or pay it in full with a timely filed return. If you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Farm employers
File Form 943 to report social security and Medicare taxes and withheld income tax for 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 year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — Federal unemployment tax
File Form 940 for 2018. If your undeposited tax is $500 or less, you can either pay it with your return or deposit it. If it is more than $500, you must deposit it. However, if you deposited the tax for the year timely, properly, and in full, you have until February 10 to file the return.

January 31 — All businesses
Give annual information statements to recipients of certain payments you made during 2018 Details

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