Exemptions and Dependents 101
When preparing your federal 2009 tax return for filing, make sure to know the basic rules about exemptions and dependents. Understand what happens when someone claims you as a dependent or how exemptions affect your return. Your refund will be affected by all these conditions.
To begin with, when someone claims you as a dependent you may still need to file a return. Depending on your income, your filing status, special tax situations, or Advanced Earned Income you will need to file a return to the IRS. Check Publication 501 for exact details about when you must file.
Exemptions are yourself and your dependents and they reduce your tax bill. The standard exemption is $3,650 but can be phased out when your income reaches certain levels. Now if you are being claimed as a dependent by someone else and you discover that you need to file a return, you cannot take the personal exemption.
Your spouse’s exemption will be claimed on your joint filing and could be claimed on your Married Filing Separate return. If your spouse did not earn any income during the tax year and is not claimed as a dependent by their parents, you can claim them on your separate return.
Other groups that cannot be claimed on your return include non US citizens, resident aliens, and residents of Mexico and Canada. The only exception is for an adopted child where you should consult your tax professional to see if they qualify.