When you file income taxes, claiming yourself will allow you an exemption, which reduces your gross income and decreases your income tax. If someone can claim you as a dependent, you lose most of the exemption and have to pay more tax. If you lived with your parents for more than half the tax year, for instance, they are generally entitled to claim you as a dependent; but if you got married during the year or primarily supported yourself, you're entitled to the exemption, which removes your parents' right to claim you. To find out whether someone claimed you, file your income tax return.
Refer to the IRS Publication 501 to verify that you qualify for the exemption. Even though you lived with your parents, the IRS sets limits to whether they can claim you as a dependent. For your parents to qualify for the exemption, you must live in your parents' home for more than half the year, they must provide at least half your support, and you must be under 19, or a full-time student and under 24.
File your income taxes electronically. If someone claimed you on their income taxes, the IRS will reject your return. When you electronically file your income tax return, a computer scans each Social Security number on the return. If your Social Security number matches that on another person's return, the IRS rejects your return.
File your income taxes through the mail. The IRS will realize the problem and begin an investigation. You should receive a letter in the mail requesting additional information, if required. Sometimes, the problem can be as simple as a typographical error. If someone did claim you as a dependent and you're entitled to the exemption, the IRS will resolve the issue.
- Some exceptions do apply to special circumstances. For more information, refer to "Overview of the Rules for Claiming an Exemption for a Dependent" in IRS Publication 501.
- If the person who claimed you is not your parent, you must also meet a relationship and gross income test, which is also described in Publication 501. To meet the relationship test, you must be a relative or live in the person's home for the entire year. As of 2012, if you made more than $3,700 for the year, you don't qualify as a dependent.
- To protect the privacy of all parties, the IRS will not release the name of the person who claimed you on their income taxes.
Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.