There’s more to determining filing status than being married or single.
As the year end approaches, it’s always wise to do a tax checkup. Reviewing filing status is a good place to start. Many taxpayers may not know they could be eligible for more than one filing status. So, as you get ready for the upcoming filing season, you should carefully review your options to pick the filing status that makes the most sense for you. If you are only eligible for one filing status, be sure to review your situation after a major life event such as marriage or divorce.
Why Filing Status is Important
Filing status is important because it determines:
- If you are required to file a federal tax return
- The type of return form you need to use
- If you should file a return to receive a refund
- Your standard deduction amount
- If you can claim certain credits
- The amount of tax you should pay
The 5 Filing Statuses
- Single. Normally this status is for taxpayers who are unmarried, divorced, or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree governed by state law.
- Married filing jointly. If a taxpayer is married, they can file a joint tax return with their spouse. When a spouse passes away, the widowed spouse can usually file a joint return for that year.
- Married filing separately. Married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. When doing so, it may result in less tax owed than filing a joint tax return.
- Head of household. Unmarried taxpayers may be able to file using this status, but special rules apply. For example, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for themselves and a qualifying person living in the home for half the year.
- Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. This status may apply to a taxpayer if their spouse died during one of the previous two years and they have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.
A Final Note
If you are confused about your filing status, you can use the What Is My Filing Status? tool Interactive Tax Assistant tool on IRS.gov. This tool can also help taxpayers who are eligible for more than one status find the one that will result in the lowest amount of tax. Contact your tax professional for more detailed information on filing status.
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