Dear Tax Talk,
My mom earned $1,400 for 2015, got a Form 1099-MISC, did a 1040 with my dad (who had no income) and paid the tax. But on the Form 1040 line 6d, “total number of exemptions claimed,” they put “0” since I will claim them. So when I did my return and claimed them and my daughter, mine got rejected, because both my mom and I claimed my dad as a dependent. How can I fix all this to get my refund? Please help me. I already filed an extension for my return, not my parents.’
— Liurongda

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Dear Liurongda,
First, make sure that your mother did not claim your father on the tax return she filed. Please check her copy of the Form 1040 — lines 6a and 6b should be blank. If either of those boxes has been filled in, that is your problem. Additionally, you are correct: line 6d, “total exemptions,” should be 0.

Just to be sure, I would also have her confirm with the IRS that the return she filed was processed correctly by them, reflecting that your father was not claimed on the return. The reason is that there could be identity theft with someone else filing a tax return using your father’s information. Identity theft is a big problem for taxpayers and this may need to be addressed. If that is the case, the IRS will tell you what needs to be done. The IRS phone number is 1-800-829-1040.

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If it turns out that somehow she made a mistake on her tax return and she did claim your father, then she needs to file an amended Form 1040X with the IRS. If the IRS made the mistake, then they will fix it on their end.

Now, let’s get to your return which was rejected for electronic filing. You should file by mail and if you are entitled to do so, claim your parents.

For 2015, you are allowed to claim your parents on your tax return if:

  1. Each of your parents had “gross income” of less than $4,000. Social Security benefits are not included in this amount.
  2. You have provided more than one-half of the parents’ total support for the year. Your parents do not have to live with you during the year. Support includes their share of household expenses if they live with you and other expenses you pay on their behalf.

A Multiple Support Agreement is required if 2 or more individuals, for example you and a sibling, provide more than one-half of the support. You do not indicate any other help with supporting your parents, so I am just including this as general information.

Thank you for the great question and all the best to you in resolving this matter.

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