Are you wondering how to claim yourself on taxes to reduce your taxable income and increase your tax refund? You could also be wondering, “Can I claim myself as an independent taxpayer?” Or maybe you are asking, “Can I claim myself as a dependent on W-4 or any other IRS form?”
Once upon a time, you could claim personal exemptions as a tax deduction against personal income when calculating your taxable earnings. And you could claim yourself, your dependents and your spouse on your taxes. Unfortunately, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) eliminated those exemptions from 2018 to 2025. In return, it doubled the standard deductions that taxpayers could claim.
Therefore, claiming yourself on taxes is technically impossible. But it helps to understand the existing IRS limitations concerning dependents and how you may be able to get around them to claim the additional tax credit.
IRS Limitations for Dependents
One significant limitation concerning claiming yourself on federal taxes is that you cannot claim a dependent on your federal taxes if another taxpayer claims you as a dependent. And neither can you claim someone as a qualifying dependent if another taxpayer has already done so. However, married people who are filing jointly can claim the same dependent.
It is also worth noting that if you file a joint tax return with your spouse, someone else cannot claim you as a dependent unless your reason for filing is to get your tax refund.
Read More: Claiming Dependents for Your Taxes
Can You Claim Yourself as a Dependent On W4?
As an employee, you are expected to fill in the IRS Form W-4. The employer will use it to determine how much to withhold from your paycheck when submitting taxes to the IRS.
You will be expected to include the number of dependents among the details. And no, you cannot include yourself within that number. You can only add qualifying children and relatives.
Get Around IRS Limitations on Claiming Yourself
While you cannot claim yourself on federal tax returns, you can still decrease the taxes you pay by using various strategies.
1. Claim Exemption on IRS Form W-4
If you select the exemption option on Form W-4, your employer will not withhold your taxes. And you will receive your entire paycheck.
However, to do so, you must ensure you have no federal income tax liability for the previous year. Also, you could claim the exemption if your income is below the filing threshold for your filing status.
2. Claim Child and Dependent Care Credit
If you earn an adjusted gross income of $438,000 and below, you can claim the child and dependent credit for qualifying dependents. Currently, the tax credit may be as high as $4,000 per qualifying person and $8,000 for two such people due to the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.
3. Claim Child Tax Credit
The child tax credit is available for working families with children. If you belong to this category, you could claim up to $3,000 per qualifying child less than 17 years but over the age of six years. If you have children aged six and younger, you will also receive an additional $600. Usually, the payments from the credit will be made to you on a monthly basis.
The child tax credit is available to working families with earnings of between $112,500 to $150,000 per year depending on when whether the taxpayers are filing as single parents or couples.
4. Claim the Head of Household Filing Status
Suppose you are unmarried, support at least one qualified dependent and pay at least half of the household expenses. In that case, you may be able to use the head of household filing status to reduce your federal taxable income.
By doing so, you will enjoy about 150 percent of the standard deduction that single filers enjoy. For the 2021 tax year, the amount in question is $18,800.
Read More: How Much Is the Standard Tax Deduction?
5. Claim Earned Income Tax Credit
If you belong to the low- or moderate-income worker category, consider claiming the refundable earned income tax credit if you qualify for it. It may enable you to reduce the burden of paying Social Security taxes.
You qualify for the credit if you have an investment income of $3,650 for the tax year you claim the credit on your federal taxes. The maximum adjusted gross income threshold will vary from $21,430 to $57,414, depending on your filing status and the number of children.
Read More: How Much Can You Make to Qualify for the EIC?
The reality is that there is no point in inquiring, “Do I claim myself as a dependent?” Right now, that’s not possible. And the situation will likely last until 2026. However, the tax credits stated above are worth claiming on your federal taxes so long as you qualify for them. All you need to do to take advantage of them is to claim at least one qualifying dependent.
- TaxPolicyCenter.Org: What are personal exemptions?
- IRS.Gov: May I Claim an Exemption for Myself or My Spouse?
- IRS.Gov: Dependents
- UMass.Edu: 2020 W-4: How to Claim Exempt
- IRS.Gov: Child and Dependent Care Credit FAQs
- Kiplinger: Child Tax Credit 2021: How Much Do I Get? When Do Monthly Payments Arrive? And Other FAQs
- IRS.Gov: IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2021
- IRS.Gov: Earned Income and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Tables
I have been a freelance writer since 2011. When I am not writing, I enjoy reading, watching cooking and lifestyle shows, and fantasizing about world travels.