At one time, you could claim a personal exemption for yourself on your federal taxes. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act eliminated personal exemptions, but at the same time, it increased the amount you can claim as a standard deduction. You’ll also be able to enjoy head of household status if you provide support for a qualifying person. These extras will help offset the exemption, but you technically won’t be able to claim yourself on your federal taxes.
Claiming Yourself on Taxes
Until the change in tax laws, each taxpayer could claim a personal exemption for themselves, their spouses and each qualifying dependent. The personal exemption was assigned a dollar amount, which the taxpayer then multiplied by the number of exemptions to arrive at a total. That total amount reduced the taxpayer’s taxable adjusted gross income, which could take them down to a lower tax bracket.
Although taking a personal exemption was never claiming yourself as a dependent, it did offer an extra dollar amount that went to everyone, whether they lived alone or had a large family. The laws eliminating the exemption apply to tax years 2018 through 2025, and even then, there’s no guarantee it will return. That means it’s important to look at other changes that affect you and your dependent tax return.
Although you won’t benefit from the personal exemption you’d get from claiming yourself as a dependent, the standard deduction has nearly doubled. If you’re a single filer, you’ll enjoy a $12,000 standard deduction this year, while married couples filing jointly will get $24,000. This not only helps you reduce more of your taxable income, but it also simplifies the tax filing process by making it less likely you’ll need to itemize your deductions. Even skipping the need to calculate and claim personal exemptions makes things easier.
Exceptions for Withholdings
One area of confusion when it comes to claiming yourself as a dependent may relate to the W-4 form you fill out when you start a new job. This isn’t necessarily dependent tax return related. When you complete the form, you’re asked to name your withholdings, which you can calculate using the IRS’s withholdings calculator. On this form, you’ll input one for yourself and another if you’re single and only have one job. You can also claim one for your spouse. If you have dependents, you’ll need to perform a calculation to find out how many to add as withholdings based on your income. Although this isn’t technically claiming yourself on taxes, it can be confused with that, since you’re claiming yourself on the money being withheld from each paycheck.
Other Tax Savings for 2018
Although personal exemptions are now gone, there are tax credits you can enjoy other than claiming yourself on taxes. If you qualify to claim head of household status, you’ll be able to claim $18,000 instead of $12,000 for you standard deduction. To qualify, you’ll need to be considered someone who keeps up a home for a qualifying person. That means you’ll need to pay rent, mortgage interest, insurance, utilities, groceries and other expenses for a child, parent or other relative who lives with you for more than half the year.
2017 Taxes and Personal Exemptions
If you’re still filing a return for the 2017 tax year, the self-claiming dependent tax return rules will still apply. You’ll get $4,050 per person, as long as your income doesn’t exceed certain limits. For 2017, those limits are $262,500 for single filers or $313,800 for married filing jointly. You’ll still be able to claim the exemptions, the amounts for each simply begin to phase out. Although you can claim an exemption for yourself, it’s important to realize that you can’t take that exemption if someone else can claim you as a dependent on their tax return.
- Tax Foundation: The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act Simplified the Tax Filing Process for Millions of Households
- Investopedia: What is a 'Personal Exemption'
- Investopedia: What is 'Withholding Allowance'
- Efile: IRS Head of Household Filing Status
- MarketWatch: How to game the new standard deduction — and 3 other ways to cut your 2018 tax bill
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images