Claiming Your Spouse as Dependent on Tax Return

Your spouse is never considered your dependent. On a joint return, you may claim one exemption for yourself and one for your spouse. If you’re filing a separate return, you may claim the exemption for your spouse only if they had no gross income, are not filing a joint return, and were not the dependent of another taxpayer.

 

Claiming Wife as Dependent on Tax Return

Although you can claim your wife, you cannot claim her “as a dependent”. A “dependent” is a person you claim who is not married to you. Because your wife is married to you, if you claim her, then it won’t be “as a dependent”. If you had no income, no one else is claiming you as a dependent and you are not filing a tax return yourself then your husband my claim your personal exemption as the spouse. But filing a joint return is a more favorable tax position especially if you did not have any income.

You can claim her, and it is only under one circumstance: If you file your taxes jointly with her, with filing status “married filing separately”, and you don’t list her “as a dependent”.

 

Some other people cannot be claimed as your dependent

Some other people cannot be claimed as your dependent. Generally, you may not claim a married person as a dependent if they file a joint return with their spouse. Also, to claim someone as a dependent, that person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year. There is an exception to this rule for certain adopted children. See IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information for additional tests to determine who can be claimed as a dependent.