Taxpayers may list qualifying children or relatives as dependents, but aren't permitted to claim themselves as dependents, according to the Internal Revenue Service. However, many taxpayers qualify to claim one personal exemption, resulting in a maximum deduction of $3,900, as of 2014.
Married couples are granted personal exemptions for each spouse on joint returns, according to the IRS. When filing separately, spouses may claim their own personal exemptions, except in cases where one spouse has no income to report or qualifies as a dependent on another taxpayer's return. Anyone who meets the criteria of a dependent is prohibited from claiming a personal exemption, and this rule even applies when the dependent isn't claimed for the current tax year.