Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Personal Exemptions

Personal Exemption Rules

Spouses

A spouse is never considered the dependent of the other spouse. However, taxpayers may be able to claim a personal exemption for their spouse simply because they are married. To be able to do this, the taxpayer must meet these conditions:

  • Married as of December 31 of the tax year, and
  • Spouse cannot be claimed as a dependent on another person's tax return, and
  • Files a joint return, or files a separate return and the spouse had no income and is not filing a return

If married taxpayers file a joint return, they can take a personal exemption for each spouse. If they file separate returns, they can each take a personal exemption for themselves.