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taxmap/pubs/p501-000.htm#en_us_publink1000220654
Publication 501

 
Exemptions, 
Standard 
Deduction, 
and Filing Information


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What's New for 2009(p1)


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Who must file.(p1)

Generally, the amount of income you can receive before you must file a tax return has increased. Table 1 shows the filing requirements for most taxpayers.
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Exemption amount.(p1)

The amount you can deduct for each exemption has increased from $3,500 in 2008 to $3,650 in 2009.
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Exemption phaseout.(p1)

You lose part of the benefit of your exemptions if your adjusted gross income (AGI) is above a certain amount. For 2009, the phaseout begins at $125,100 for married persons filing separately; $166,800 for single individuals; $208,500 for heads of household; and $250,200 for married persons filing jointly or qualifying widow(ers). However, in 2009, you can lose no more than 1/3 of the amount of your exemptions. In other words, each exemption cannot be reduced to less than $2,433.
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Exemption for individual displaced by Midwestern disaster.(p1)

You may be able to claim a $500 exemption if you provided housing to a person displaced by a Midwestern disaster. For more information, see Exemption for Individual Displaced by a Midwestern Disaster.
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Standard deduction increased.(p1)

The standard deduction for most taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040 is higher in 2009 than it was in 2008. The amount depends on your filing status. In addition to the annual increase due to inflation adjustments, your 2009 standard deduction is increased by: You can use the 2009 Standard Deduction Worksheet near the end of this publication to figure your standard deduction. But to increase your standard deduction by taxes paid on the purchase of a new motor vehicle, you must use Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040) and attach it to your return.
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Itemized deductions.(p2)

Some of your itemized deductions may be limited if your AGI is more than $166,800 ($83,400 if you are married filing separately). See Who Should Itemize, later.
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Definition of qualifying child revised.(p2)

Beginning in 2009, the following changes have been made to the definition of a qualifying child.
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Definition of custodial parent.(p2)

Beginning in 2009, new rules apply to determine who is the custodial parent for tax purposes. See Custodial parent and noncustodial parent.
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Revoking a release of claim to a dependent's exemption.(p2)

Beginning in 2009, new rules allow the custodial parent to revoke a release of claim to exemption that was previously released to the noncustodial parent. See Revocation of release of claim to an exemption.
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Post-2008 divorce decree or separation agreement.(p2)

Beginning with 2009 tax returns, a noncustodial parent claiming an exemption for a child can no longer attach certain pages from a divorce decree or separation agreement instead of Form 8332 if the decree or agreement went into effect after 2008. The noncustodial parent must attach Form 8332 or a similar statement signed by the custodial parent and whose only purpose is to release a claim to exemption. See Children of divorced or separated parents or parents who live apart under Exemptions for Dependents.

Reminders(p2)


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Taxpayer identification number for aliens.(p2)

If you are a nonresident or resident alien and you do not have and are not eligible to get a social security number (SSN), you must apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Your spouse also may need an ITIN if he or she does not have and is not eligible to get an SSN. See Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Also, see Social Security Numbers for Dependents, later.
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Photographs of missing children.(p2)

The Internal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Photographs of missing children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) if you recognize a child.

taxmap/pubs/p501-000.htm#TXMP74268d94Introduction

This publication discusses some tax rules that affect every person who may have to file a federal income tax return. It answers some basic questions: who must file; who should file; what filing status to use; how many exemptions to claim; and the amount of the standard deduction.
Who Must File explains who must file an income tax return. If you have little or no gross income, reading this section will help you decide if you have to file a return.
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Table 1. 2009 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers

IF your filing status is...AND at the end of 2009 you were...* THEN file a return if your gross income was at least...**
singleunder 65 $ 9,350
65 or older$10,750
head of householdunder 65$12,000
65 or older$13,400
married, filing jointly*** under 65 (both spouses)$18,700
65 or older (one spouse)$19,800
65 or older (both spouses)$20,900
married, filing separatelyany age $ 3,650
qualifying widow(er) with dependent childunder 65$15,050
65 or older$16,150
*   If you were born before January 2, 1945, you are considered to be 65 or older at the end of 2009.
**  Gross income means all income you received in the form of money, goods, property, and services that
   is not exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale
   of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Do not include any social security benefits
   unless (a) you are married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time during
   2009, or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt
  interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the Form 1040
  instructions to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income.
*** If you did not live with your spouse at the end of 2009 (or on the date your spouse died) and
   your gross income was at least $3,650, you must file a return regardless of your age.
Who Should File will help you decide if you should file a return, even if you are not required to do so.
Filing Status helps you determine which filing status to use. Filing status is important in determining whether you must file a return, your standard deduction, and your tax rate. It also helps determine what credits you may be entitled to.
Exemptions, which reduce your taxable income, are discussed in Exemptions.
Exemptions for Dependents explains the difference between a qualifying child and a qualifying relative. Other topics include the social security number requirement for dependents, the rules for multiple support agreements, and the rules for divorced or separated parents.
Standard Deduction gives the rules and dollar amounts for the standard deduction — a benefit for taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions. This section also discusses the standard deduction for taxpayers who are blind or age 65 or older, and special rules for dependents. In addition, this section should help you decide whether you would be better off taking the standard deduction or itemizing your deductions.
How To Get Tax Help explains how to get tax help from the IRS.
This publication is for U.S. citizens and resident aliens only. If you are a resident alien for the entire year, you must follow the same tax rules that apply to U.S. citizens. The rules to determine if you are a resident or nonresident alien are discussed in chapter 1 of Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens.
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Nonresident aliens.(p2)


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If you were a nonresident alien at any time during the year, the rules and tax forms that apply to you may be different from those that apply to U.S. citizens. See Publication 519.
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Comments and suggestions.(p2)


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We welcome your comments about this publication and your suggestions for future editions.
You can write to us at the following address:

 
Internal Revenue Service 
Individual Forms and Publications Branch 
SE:W:CAR:MP:T:I 
1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526 
Washington, DC 20224


We respond to many letters by telephone. Therefore, it would be helpful if you would include your daytime phone number, including the area code, in your correspondence.
You can email us at *taxforms@irs.gov. (The asterisk must be included in the address.) Please put "Publications Comment" on the subject line. Although we cannot respond individually to each email, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments as we revise our tax products.
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Ordering forms and publications.(p2)
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Visit www.irs.gov/formspubs to download forms and publications, call 1-800-829-3676, or write to the address below and receive a response within 10 days after your request is received.

 
Internal Revenue Service 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613


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Tax questions.(p2)
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If you have a tax question, check the information available on www.irs.gov or call 1-800-829-1040. We cannot answer tax questions sent to either of the above addresses.

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Useful items

You may want to see:


Publication
 559 Survivors, Executors, and Administrators
 929 Tax Rules for Children and Dependents
 4492-B Information for Affected Taxpayers in the Midwestern Disaster Areas
Form (and Instructions)
 Schedule L (Form 1040A or 1040): Standard Deduction for Certain Filers
 1040X: Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
 2848: Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative
 8332: Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent
 8814: Parents' Election To Report Child's Interest and Dividends
 8914: Exemption Amount for Taxpayers Housing Midwestern Displaced Individuals
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Who Must File(p3)


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previous topic occurrence Filing Requirements next topic occurrence

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, whether you must file a federal income tax return depends on your gross income, your filing status, your age, and whether you are a dependent. For details, see Table 1 and Table 2. You also must file if one of the situations described in Table 3 applies. The filing requirements apply even if you owe no tax.
You may have to pay a penalty if you are required to file a return but fail to do so. If you willfully fail to file a return, you may be subject to criminal prosecution.
For information on what form to use — Form 1040EZ, Form 1040A, or Form 1040 — see the instructions in your tax package.
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Gross income.(p3)


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Gross income is all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that is not exempt from tax. If you are married and live with your spouse in a community property state, half of any income defined by state law as community income may be considered yours. For a list of community property states, see Community property states under Married Filing Separately, later.
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Self-employed persons.(p3)
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If you are self-employed in a business that provides services (where products are not a factor), your gross income from that business is the gross receipts. If you are self-employed in a business involving manufacturing, merchandising, or mining, your gross income from that business is the total sales minus the cost of goods sold. To this figure, you add any income from investments and from incidental or outside operations or sources.
Deposit
You must file Form 1040 if you owe any self-employment tax.
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Filing status.(p3)


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Your filing status generally depends on whether you are single or married. In some cases, it depends on other factors as well. Whether you are single or married is determined as of the last day of your tax year, which is December 31 for most taxpayers. Filing status is discussed in detail later in this publication.
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Age.(p3)


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Age is a factor in determining if you must file a return only if you are 65 or older at the end of your tax year. For 2009, you are 65 or older if you were born before January 2, 1945.
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Filing Requirements 
for Most Taxpayers(p3)


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previous topic occurrence Filing Requirements next topic occurrence

You must file a return if your gross income for the year was at least the amount shown on the appropriate line in Table 1. Dependents should see Table 2 instead.
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Deceased Persons(p3)


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You must file an income tax return for a decedent (a person who died) if both of the following are true.
  1. You are the surviving spouse, executor, administrator, or legal representative.
  2. The decedent met the filing requirements described in this publication at the time of his or her death.
For more information, see Final Return for Decedent in Publication 559.
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Table 2. 2009 Filing Requirements for Dependents

See Exemptions for Dependents to find out if you are a dependent.

If your parent (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, use this table to see if you must file a return.
 In this table, unearned income includes taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions. It also includes unemployment compensation, taxable social security benefits, pensions, annuities, and distributions of unearned income from a trust. Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and taxable scholarship and fellowship grants. Gross income is the total of your unearned and earned income.
Caution. If your gross income was $3,650 or more, you usually cannot be claimed as a dependent unless you are a qualifying child. For details, see Exemptions for Dependents.
Single dependents— Were you either age 65 or older or blind?
No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  1. Your unearned income was more than $950.
  2. Your earned income was more than $5,700.
  3. Your gross income was more than the larger of —
    1. $950, or
    2. Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $300.
  
Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  1. Your unearned income was more than $2,350 ($3,750 if 65 or older and blind).
  2. Your earned income was more than $7,100 ($8,500 if 65 or older and blind).
  3. Your gross income was more than the larger of–
    1. $2,350 ($3,750 if 65 or older and blind), or
    2. Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $1,700 ($3,100 if 65 or older and blind).
  
Married dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?
No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  1. Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  2. Your unearned income was more than $950.
  3. Your earned income was more than $5,700.
  4. Your gross income was more than the larger of —
    1. $950, or
    2. Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $300.
  
Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.
  1. Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.
  2. Your unearned income was more than $2,050 ($3,150 if 65 or older and blind).
  3. Your earned income was more than $6,800 ($7,900 if 65 or older and blind).
  4. Your gross income was more than the larger of–
    1. $2,050 ($3,150 if 65 or older and blind), or
    2. Your earned income (up to $5,400) plus $1,400 ($2,500 if 65 or older and blind).
  
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U.S. Citizens or Resident Aliens Living Abroad(p3)


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For purposes of determining whether you must file a return, you must include in your gross income all of the income you earned or received abroad, including any income you can exclude under the foreign earned income exclusion. For more information on special tax rules that may apply to you, see Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad.
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Residents of Puerto Rico(p3)


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Generally, if you are a U.S. citizen and a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico, you must file a U.S. income tax return if you meet the income requirements. This is in addition to any legal requirement you may have to file an income tax return with Puerto Rico.
If you are a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico for the whole year, your U.S. gross income does not include income from sources within Puerto Rico. However, include in your U.S. gross income any income you received for your services as an employee of the United States or any U.S. agency. If you receive income from Puerto Rican sources that is not subject to U.S. tax, you must reduce your standard deduction, which reduces the amount of income you can have before you must file a U.S. income tax return.
For more information, see Publication 570, Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions.
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Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions(p3)


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If you had income from Guam, the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, special rules may apply when determining whether you must file a U.S. federal income tax return. In addition, you may have to file a return with the individual possession government. See Publication 570 for more information.
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Dependents(p3)


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A person who is a dependent may still have to file a return. This depends on the amount of the dependent's earned income, unearned income, and gross income. For details, see Table 2. A dependent may also have to file if one of the situations described in Table 3 applies.
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Responsibility of parent.(p3)


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If a dependent child who must file an income tax return cannot file it for any reason, such as age, a parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person must file it for the child. If the child cannot sign the return, the parent or guardian must sign the child's name followed by the words "By (your signature), parent for minor child."
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Earned income.(p3)


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This is salaries, wages, professional fees, and other amounts received as pay for work you actually perform. Earned income (only for purposes of filing requirements and the standard deduction) also includes any part of a scholarship that you must include in your gross income. See chapter 1 of Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education, for more information on taxable and nontaxable scholarships.
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Child's earnings.(p4)
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Amounts a child earns by performing services are his or her gross income. This is true even if under local law the child's parents have the right to the earnings and may actually have received them. If the child does not pay the tax due on this income, the parent is liable for the tax.
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Unearned income.(p4)


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This is income such as interest, dividends, and capital gains. Trust distributions of interest, dividends, capital gains, and survivor annuities are considered unearned income also.
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Election to report child's unearned income on parent's return.(p4)


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You may be able to include your child's interest and dividend income on your tax return. If you choose to do this, your child will not have to file a return. However, all of the following conditions must be met.
For more information, see Form 8814 and Parent's Election To Report Child's Interest and Dividends in Publication 929.
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Other Situations(p4)


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You may have to file a tax return even if your gross income is less than the amount shown in Table 1 or Table 2 for your filing status. See Table 3 for those other situations when you must file.
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Table 3. Other Situations When You Must File a 2009 Return

If any of the four conditions listed below applied to you for 2009, you must file a return.
1.You owe any special taxes, including any of the following.
 a.Alternative minimum tax. (See the Form 1040 instructions for line 45.)
 b.Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account. (See Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), and Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans.) But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.
 c.Social security or Medicare tax on tips you did not report to your employer (see Publication 531, Reporting Tip Income) or on wages you received from an employer who did not withhold these taxes (see Form 8919).
 d.Write-in taxes, including uncollected social security, Medicare, or railroad retirement tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance and additional tax on health savings accounts. (See Publication 531, Publication 969, and the Form 1040 instructions for line 60.)
 e.Household employment taxes. But if you are filing a return only because you owe these taxes, you can file Schedule H by itself.
 f.Recapture taxes. (See the Form 1040 instructions for lines 44 and 60.)
2.You received any advance earned income credit (EIC) payments from your employer. These payments should be shown in box 9 of your Form W-2. (See Publication 596, Earned Income Credit (EIC).)
3.You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)
4.You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes. (See Schedule SE (Form 1040) and its instructions.)