Tax Exemptions for 2017 and Earlier Tax Returns

Important: Recent tax reform replaced exemptions with the doubled standard deduction for 2018 and later Tax Returns. This information can only be used for 2017 and earlier Tax Returns.

What Are Tax Exemptions?

Tax exemptions reduce your adjusted gross income, ensuring that not all of your income is taxed. Your total exemptions, along with your standard deduction or itemized deductions, are subtracted from your adjusted gross income to figure your taxable income. Each tax exemption is worth $4,050 for Tax Year 2017. 

There are two types of exemptions: personal exemptions and dependent exemptions.

How to Determine the Number of Exemptions to Claim

Generally, you can claim one personal tax exemption for yourself and one for your spouse if you are married. You can also claim one tax exemption for each person who qualifies as your dependent, your spouse is never considered your dependent.

You cannot claim any exemptions if another taxpayer is entitled to claim you as a dependent. They claim the exemption for you on their tax return. In addition, you not allowed to claim any dependents.

Federal Income Tax Exemption Amounts

The following tax exemption table shows how much will be deducted from your gross income, based on your number of exemptions:

Number of Tax Exemptions Total Exemption Amount
1 $4,050
2 $8,100
3 $12,150
4 $16,200
5 $20,250
6 $24,300
7 $28,350
8 $32,400
9 $36,450
10 $40,500

Personal Tax Exemptions

You may generally claim one tax exemption for yourself if you are a single taxpayer.

If you are married and file a joint return, you may claim one tax exemption for yourself and one for your spouse. If you file a separate return, you are only able to claim a tax exemption for your spouse if your spouse is not filing a tax return, has no gross income, and was not claimed as the dependent of another taxpayer.

You must be married on the last day of the year to claim a tax exemption for your spouse on your tax return, and if you obtain a final divorce or separation decree by December 31, you may not claim a federal tax exemption for your (ex) spouse. If your spouse dies during the tax year, you can still claim a tax exemption for them for the year.

Tax Exemptions for Dependents

You may claim a tax exemption for each dependent if all of the following statements are true:

  1. You (or your spouse if filing jointly) do not qualify to be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return.
  2. The potential dependent is not Married Filing Jointly, unless
  3. the joint return is only a claim for a refund and there would be no taxes owed by either spouse if their returns were filed separately.
  4. The potential dependent is a United States citizen, U.S. national, resident alien, or resident of Canada or Mexico (unless they are a legally adopted child).
  5. The potential dependent is your Qualifying Child or your Qualifying Relative.

Find out how to claim a dependent.

Reduction of Tax Exemptions and Exemption Phase Out

The personal exemption for Tax Year 2017 begins to phase out with adjusted gross incomes of $261,500 for single taxpayers ($313,800 for married couples filing jointly). It phases out completely at $384,000 for single taxpayers ($436,300 for married couples filing jointly).

How to Claim Tax Exemptions

You can claim personal tax exemptions on Form 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040 (Not sure which form to use? Find out which Form 1040 to file). You can only claim tax exemptions for dependents on Form 1040A  or 1040.

Exemptions aren't the only way to pay less taxes. See what tax deductions you may qualify to claim on your tax return.