Can I File Taxes If My Parent Claimed Me?

by Tara Thomas ; Updated March 15, 2018

When you’re someone’s dependent, if you earned more than a certain amount of income for the year, then you are responsible for paying your taxes. However, there is some confusion regarding dependents and taxes. When you’re claimed as a dependent, the person is only claiming an exemption for you – not your income. Understanding whether or not you can file taxes if your parent claims you will save a lot of hassle, and may just land you a refund at tax time.

What It Means to Be Claimed as a Dependent

A dependent is someone – a child or relative - other than yourself or your spouse for whom you can claim a dependency exemption. The IRS has several tests that determine who is a qualifying relative or child. These include age, level of support, relationship, residency and other requirements. Once you are able to be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer, he will receive a dependency exemption that reduces the amount of his taxable income. For tax year 2017, the dependency tax exemption is $4,050. This amount is subject to phase-out at higher tax brackets; it completely phases out after $384,000 in income for single filers, and $436,300 for married couples who file jointly.

How Being Claimed as a Dependent Affects Your Taxes

When you’re claimed on someone else’s taxes, you still may be required to file taxes on any income you earn more than a certain amount, but you will not be able to claim an exemption for yourself when you go to file. This is because the IRS allows each individual, regardless of whether she files taxes herself, to be claimed on only one tax return per year. For instance, both parents cannot claim the same child on their returns unless they’re filing jointly. This also means that you cannot claim a personal exemption for yourself – even if you owe taxes – when someone else claims you as a dependent.

Dependents also cannot claim any dependents on their own tax return. In this case, if you’re a dependent of someone else, you can’t claim your child as a dependent on your return. Potential dependents can’t file jointly unless their spouse is due a refund and other requirements such as citizenship stipulations are met. It is best to familiarize yourself with the IRS website, or consult your tax preparer for more information regarding how being claimed as a dependent can affect your personal tax filings.

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IRS Minimum Income for Filing Thresholds for Dependents

Every year the IRS announces new minimum income thresholds before filing taxes becomes mandatory. These thresholds typically depend upon age, filing status and marital status, but the minimum filing requirements for dependents are different.

The minimum earned income requirements before dependents are required to file for 2017 are as follows:

Single Dependents

  • Under 65 and not blind – more than $6,350
  • 65 and older or blind – more than $7,900
  • Blind and 65 or older – more than $9,450

Married Dependents

  • Under 65 and not blind – more than $6,350
  • 65 and older or blind – more than $7,600
  • Blind and 65 or older – more than $8,850

Once you earn more than one of these amounts, you are required to file taxes, even if you’re claimed as dependent. However, if your income comes from self-employment, then your minimum filing requirement is $400 in earnings for the year, regardless of age. While you may not have to file taxes if you earn less than the minimum requirement, you might want to anyway. If any taxes were withheld from your pay, you can get them back in the form of a refund.

About the Author

Tara Thomas is a Los Angeles-based writer and avid traveler. Her articles appear in various online publications, including Sapling, PocketSense, Zacks, Livestrong, Modern Mom and SF Gate. She began her writing career in college authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory, which helped her develop a lifelong passion for environmentalism. She has a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach. Thomas is also an event consultant/planner, spent 10 years as a mortgage consultant and enjoys writing on the subjects of travel and personal finance.

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