IRS Tax Tips – Tax Benefits for Parents Plus Facts about Dependents and Exemptions

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The IRS has published two bulletins which contain useful information that applies to many of my readers. I have summarized the key points below.

Tax Benefits for Parents (IRS Tax Tip 2013-11)

  • Dependents. In most cases, you can claim a child as a dependent even if your child was born anytime in 2012.   For more information, see the filing tips below covering who you can claim claim as a dependent for exemptions and tax credits.
  • Child Tax Credit. You may be able to claim the Child Tax Credit (CTC) for each of your children that were under age 17 at the end of 2012. If you do not benefit from the full amount of the credit, you may be eligible for the Additional Child Tax Credit. For more information, see the this CTC article with 2012 and 2013 details based on Publication 972.
  • Child and Dependent Care Credit. You may be able to claim this credit if you paid someone to care for your child or children under age 13, so that you could work or look for work. See IRS Publication 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses.
  • Earned Income Tax Credit. If you worked but earned less than $50,270 last year, you may qualify for EITC. If you have qualifying children, you may get up to $5,891 dollars extra back when you file a return and claim it. Use the EITC Assistant to find out if you qualify.
  • Adoption Credit. You may be able to take a tax credit for certain expenses you incurred to adopt a child. For details about this credit, see the instructions for IRS Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.
  • Higher education credits. If you paid higher education costs for yourself or another student who is an immediate family member, you may qualify for either the American Opportunity Credit (AOTC)or the Lifetime Learning Credit. Both credits may reduce the amount of tax you owe. If the American Opportunity Credit is more than the tax you owe, you could be eligible for a refund of up to $1,000. See IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
  • Student loan interest. You may be able to deduct interest you paid on a qualified student loan, even if you do not itemize your deductions. For more information, see IRS Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education.
  • Self-employed health insurance deduction - If you were self-employed and paid for health insurance, you may be able to deduct premiums you paid to cover your child. It applies to children under age 27 at the end of the year, even if not your dependent. See IRS.gov/aca for information on the Affordable Care Act.

Important Tax Filing Facts about Dependents and Exemptions (IRS Tax Tip 2013-09)

While each individual tax return is unique, there are some tax rules that affect every person who files a federal income tax return. These rules involve dependents and exemptions. The IRS has six important facts about dependents and exemptions that you should know when filing your tax return.

1. Exemptions reduce taxable income.  There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. You can deduct $3,800 for each exemption you claim on your 2012 tax return.

2. Personal exemptions.  You usually may claim one exemption for yourself on your tax return. You also can claim one for your spouse if you are married and file a joint return. If you and your spouse file separate returns, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if he or she had no gross income, is not filing a joint return and was not the dependent of another taxpayer.

3. Exemptions for dependents.  Generally, you can claim an exemption for each of your dependents. A dependent is either your qualifying child or qualifying relative. If you are married, you may not claim your spouse as your dependent. You must list the Social Security Number of each dependent you claim on your return. See Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for information about dependents who do not have Social Security numbers.

4. Some people do not qualify as dependents.  While there are some exceptions, you generally may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse.

5. Dependents may have to file.  If you can claim someone else as your dependent on your tax return, that person may still be required to file his or her own tax return. Whether they must file a return depends on several factors, including the amount of their gross income (both earned and unearned income), their marital status and any special taxes they owe.

6. Dependents can’t claim a personal exemption.  If you can claim another person as a dependent on your tax return, that person may not claim a personal exemption on his or her own tax return. This is true even if you do not actually claim that person as your dependent on your tax return. The fact that you could claim that person disqualifies them from claiming a personal exemption.

Remember that a person must meet several tests in order for you to claim them as your dependent. See this article for the tests you will use to determine if you can claim a person as your dependent

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