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IRS.gov Website
Publication 501
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220844

Exemptions(p9)

rule
Exemptions reduce your taxable income. You can deduct $3,800 for each exemption you claim in 2012. If you are entitled to two exemptions for 2012, you can deduct $7,600 ($3,800 × 2).
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220846

Types of exemptions.(p9)

rule
There are two types of exemptions you may be able to take:While each is worth the same amount ($3,800 for 2012), different rules, discussed later, apply to each type.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220847

Dependent cannot claim a personal exemption.(p9)

rule
If you are entitled to claim an exemption for a dependent (such as your child), that dependent cannot claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220850

How to claim exemptions.(p9)

rule
How you claim an exemption on your tax return depends on which form you file.
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Form 1040EZ filers.(p9)
If you file Form 1040EZ, the exemption amount is combined with the standard deduction and entered on line 5.
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Form 1040A filers.(p9)
If you file Form 1040A, complete lines 6a through 6d. The total number of exemptions you can claim is the total in the box on line 6d. Also complete line 26.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220853
Form 1040 filers.(p10)
If you file Form 1040, complete lines 6a through 6d.The total number of exemptions you can claim is the total in the box on line 6d. Also complete line 42.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220854

U.S. citizen or resident alien.(p10)

rule
If you are a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national (defined later) or a resident of Canada or Mexico, you may qualify for any of the exemptions discussed here.
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Nonresident aliens.(p10)

rule
Generally, if you are a nonresident alien (other than a resident of Canada or Mexico, or certain residents of India or Korea), you can qualify for only one personal exemption for yourself. You cannot claim exemptions for a spouse or dependents.
These restrictions do not apply if you are a nonresident alien married to a U. S. citizen or resident alien and have chosen to be treated as a resident of the United States.
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More information.(p10)
For more information on exemptions if you are a nonresident alien, see chapter 5 in Publication 519.
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Dual-status taxpayers.(p10)

rule
If you have been both a nonresident alien and a resident alien in the same tax year, you should see Publication 519 for information on determining your exemptions.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220858

Personal Exemptions(p10)

rule
You are generally allowed one exemption for yourself. If you are married, you may be allowed one exemption for your spouse. These are called personal exemptions.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220859

Your Own Exemption(p10)

rule
You can take one exemption for yourself unless you can be claimed as a dependent by another taxpayer. If another taxpayer is entitled to claim you as a dependent, you cannot take an exemption for yourself even if the other taxpayer does not actually claim you as a dependent.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220860

Your Spouse's Exemption(p10)

rule
Your spouse is never considered your dependent.
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Joint return.(p10)

rule
On a joint return, you can claim one exemption for yourself and one for your spouse.
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Separate return.(p10)

rule
If you file a separate return, you can claim an exemption for your spouse only if your spouse had no gross income, is not filing a return, and was not the dependent of another taxpayer. This is true even if the other taxpayer does not actually claim your spouse as a dependent. You can claim an exemption for your spouse even if he or she is a nonresident alien; in that case, your spouse must have no gross income for U.S. tax purposes and satisfy the other conditions listed above.
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Head of household.(p10)
If you qualify for head of household filing status because you are considered unmarried, you can claim an exemption for your spouse if the conditions described in the preceding paragraph are satisfied.
To claim the exemption for your spouse, check the box on line 6b of Form 1040 or Form 1040A and enter the name of your spouse in the space to the right of the box. Enter the SSN or ITIN of your spouse in the space provided at the top of Form 1040 or Form 1040A.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220864

Death of spouse.(p10)

rule
If your spouse died during the year and you file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse, you generally can claim your spouse's exemption under the rules just explained in Joint return. If you file a separate return for the year, you may be able to claim your spouse's exemption under the rules just described in Separate return.
If you remarried during the year, you cannot take an exemption for your deceased spouse.
If you are a surviving spouse without gross income and you remarry in the year your spouse died, you can be claimed as an exemption on both the final separate return of your deceased spouse and the separate return of your new spouse for that year. If you file a joint return with your new spouse, you can be claimed as an exemption only on that return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-003.htm#en_us_publink1000220866

Divorced or separated spouse.(p11)

rule
If you obtained a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance during the year, you cannot take your former spouse's exemption. This rule applies even if you provided all of your former spouse's support.