It’s not uncommon for us to get this question. However, because people sometimes don’t know the nuances of how a tax return is actually filed, this one can get lost in translation. In this post on our sister site we discuss the filing status options for those who are married. In summary, if you are legally married then your options are Married Filing Joint (together) or Married Filing Separate. So where does this whole claiming a spouse as a dependent thing come in? Read on.
When you file a tax return, you are allowed to claim an exemption, which will reduce your taxable income. There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and exemptions for dependents. For tax year 2015, the IRS recently announced that each exemption will be worth $4,000 on your 2015 tax return. That means that if you file with your spouse and had no dependents, you would claim 2 exemptions. If you had dependents, you would claim the 2 exemptions for you and your spouse and then 1 additional exemption for each dependent. Clear right? So now the question about your spouse being claimed as a dependent.
As we stated above, when you are married you only have two choices when it comes to filing status. As such, your spouse is never considered your dependent. Thus, on a joint return, you may claim one exemption for yourself and one for your spouse. If you’re filing a separate return, you would normally claim just the exemption for yourself. However, if you’re filing a separate return, you may claim the exempt