Can I claim my spouse as a dependent?
You can’t claim spouses as dependents whether he or she maintains residency with you or not. However, you can claim an exemption for your spouse in certain circumstances:
- If you and your spouse are married filing jointly, you can claim one exemption for your spouse and one exemption for yourself.
- If you’re married filing separately, you can claim an exemption for your spouse only if your spouse:
- Had no gross income
- Isn’t filing a return
- Wasn’t the dependent of another taxpayer, even if the other taxpayer doesn’t actually claim your spouse as a dependent
Your options for your tax filing status if your spouse dies will change depending on how long ago they passed away. For example, you can generally use married filing jointly in the year your spouse passes. Then in the next two years, you can file as a qualifying widower if you meet certain requirements.
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