When it comes to tax time, all the different rules can make your head spin. One important rule to know is whether or not you can claim an exemption for yourself on your federal taxes. Claiming yourself can save you some money on your taxes by reducing your taxable income. However, incorrectly claiming yourself could cost you in tax penalties.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
You can claim yourself on your taxes if no one else is allowed to claim you as a dependent.
Requirements to Claim Yourself
You are permitted to claim an exemption for yourself on your federal income taxes if no one else can claim you as a dependent on a tax return. You’re eligible to be claimed as someone else’s dependent if you meet the criteria as a qualifying child or a qualifying relative. To be a qualifying child, you must be under 19 (or under 24 and a full-time student), you must be the other person’s descendant (including step children and foster children), you must live with the other person for at least half the year and you can’t provide more than half of your own support. For someone else to claim you as a qualifying relative, you must either live with the other person for the entire year or be related to them, your income can’t exceed $4,050 in 2017 and the other person must provide more than half of your total support for the year.
Must Be Ineligible to Be Claimed By Another
If you are eligible to be claimed as someone else’s dependent, you aren’t allowed to claim yourself even if the other person doesn’t claim you. For example, if your parents could claim you, you can’t claim yourself even if your parents agree that you could claim yourself.
Personal Exemptions Eliminated in 2018
Beginning in the 2018 tax year and continuing through the 2025 tax year, the deduction for claiming personal tax exemptions on your income taxes has been eliminated. As a result, you won’t receive a reduction in your taxable income regardless of whether you can claim yourself on your federal taxes. However, barring further tax law changes, you will again receive a deduction for personal exemptions starting in the 2026 tax year.
Calculating 2017 Tax Savings
The value of each personal exemption you claim on your 2017 tax return is $4,050, which means you’ll be taxed on $4,050 less income than if you weren’t able to claim yourself. The amount that will save you depends on your tax bracket, as a refund calculator will show you. The higher your bracket, the higher your tax savings. For example, if you’re only in the 10 percent tax bracket, you’ll save $405. However, if you fall in the top 39 percent bracket, you’ll save $1,579.50.
Based in the Kansas City area, Mike specializes in personal finance and business topics. He has been writing since 2009 and has been published by "Quicken," "TurboTax," and "The Motley Fool."