What Is the Joint Return Test?

The joint return test is a test created by the IRS that you can use to determine if you can claim another person as a dependent on your taxes. Essentially, the joint return test states that if you can file with the status of married filing jointly, you can’t be someone else’s dependent.  

For example, if you’re married and can file with your spouse, your parents will not be able to claim you as a dependent on their return. 

However, two situations allow for an exception to the joint return test. You can still qualify as a dependent if both of these apply:

  1. You or your spouse files a joint return only to claim a refund for tax withheld.
  2. If you or your spouse filed separate returns, neither of you would owe tax. 

Dependent Taxpayer Test

Similar to the joint return test, the dependent taxpayer test determines when someone can be claimed as a dependent by another person. The dependent taxpayer test specifies that any taxpayer who can be claimed as a dependent can’t claim someone else as a dependent. 

If that sounds confusing, ask yourself, “Can someone claim me as a dependent?” If the answer to that question is yes, then you can’t claim someone else as a dependent. 

If you have questions about whether or not someone can claim you as a dependent, our tax pros can help. Visit your local H&R Block tax office to make an appointment and speak with one of our knowledgeable pros. 

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