Exemptions directly reduce your taxable income. You are allowed
a personal exemption for yourself, your spouse if married filing
jointly, and each person you can claim as a dependent. For 2012,
the exemption amount is $3,800, regardless of your income.
You can take a personal exemption for yourself unless another
taxpayer can claim you as a dependent. Even if the other taxpayer does
not take an exemption for you, you cannot claim the personal
If you file a joint return, you can claim an exemption for your
If you are filing separate returns, or as head of household, you
can claim an exemption for your spouse only if you meet all of the
If your spouse could be claimed as someone else's dependent, you
cannot claim the exemption, even if the other taxpayer does not
claim the exemption for your spouse.
If your spouse died during the year and you did not remarry, you
can claim an exemption for your spouse if you are filing a joint
return in the year of your spouse's death.
You can claim one exemption for each person you can claim as a
dependent. Even if your dependent files a return, you can still
claim a personal exemption for him or her.
You can take one exemption for each qualifying child or relative
if the person meets three tests:
If you are a non-resident alien, generally you can only claim an
exemption for yourself. You cannot claim an exemption for your
spouse or any dependents.
This does not apply to residents of Canada, Mexico, or certain
residents of India and Korea. This also does not apply if you are a
non-resident alien married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien, and
have chosen to be treated as a resident of the United States.