How to Calculate Federal Tax Exemptions

By Carter McBride
Taxpayers get an exemption each year.

tax forms image by Chad McDermott from Fotolia.com

Taxpayers can reduce tax liability through income tax exemptions. The main tax exemptions are for yourself, your spouse and for any dependents. The Internal Revenue Service sets an income threshold and a multiplier for the exemptions. In 2009, the lowest income exemption threshold was $125,100. The exemption amount was $3,650. These numbers can change each year. In addition, Congress will often enact legislation to provide additional exemptions for taxpayers in need. In 2009, Congress allowed different exemption amounts for Midwesterners who were displaced.

Determine your exemptions. Your total exemptions will be on Form 1040 Line 6d. You will include yourself as one, your spouse as a second if you file jointly and any additional dependents. A dependent is generally a relative, such as a child, who lives with you and for whom you pay most of his living costs.

Find the exemption amount for the year. In 2009, the amount was $3,650. The government will disclose this information on your Form 1040.

Multiply the exemption amount by the number from Step 1. This is your exemption amount if your adjusted gross income is below the threshold amount.

Subtract your adjusted gross income from the threshold amount. The threshold amount will change each year and vary depending on your filing status. The Internal Revenue Service will disclose this information in Form 1040 instructions.

Divide the number from Step 4 by $2,500 if the amount is less than $122,500 or $61,250 if married filing separately. If the amount is more than $122,500 or $61,250 if married filing separately, then multiply $2,433 by the amount from Step 1. This is your exemption amount.

Multiply the number from Step 5 by 0.02.

Multiply the number from Step 3 by the number from Step 6.

Divide Step 7 by 3.

Subtract the number calculated Step 8 from the number calculated in Step 3. This is your total exemption.

About the Author

Carter McBride started writing in 2007 with CMBA's IP section. He has written for Bureau of National Affairs, Inc and various websites. He received a CALI Award for The Actual Impact of MasterCard's Initial Public Offering in 2008. McBride is an attorney with a Juris Doctor from Case Western Reserve University and a Master of Science in accounting from the University of Connecticut.

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