Understanding Filing Statuses
Are you sure you are using the best filing status for your situation? If your circumstances changed last year or if you never really understood the various filing status options, we encourage you to read on.
The filing status you select can impact the amount of tax you owe for the year – and even determine if you need to file a tax return at all. That’s why it’s essential that you choose the correct status.
When considering your filing status for this year, keep in mind that your marital status on December 31st is your status for the whole year. Also, it is possible that more than one filing status may apply to your situation. In that case, you should choose the status that requires you to pay the least amount of tax.
The following list of filing statuses is from the IRS newsroom. It offers a brief description of who should claim each status.
- Single. Normally this status is for taxpayers who aren’t married, or who are divorced or legally separated under state law.
- Married Filing Jointly. If taxpayers are married, they can file a joint tax return. When a spouse passes away, the widowed spouse can usually file a joint return for that year.
- Married Filing Separately. A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns. This may benefit them if it results in less tax owed than if they file a joint tax return. Taxpayers may want to prepare their taxes both ways before they choose. They can also use this status if each wants to be responsible only for their own tax.
- Head of Household. In most cases, this status applies to a taxpayer who is not married, but there are some special rules. For example, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for themselves and a qualifying person. Taxpayers should check all the rules and make sure they qualify to use this status.
- 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.
Need more information? Contact a WNDE tax advisor to discuss your situation.
- Interactive Tax Assistant
- Publication 501
- IRS Tax Map: Filing Status
- IRS Tax Map: Filing Status, Single