Filing Status

When you file your taxes, you need to know which filing status you should use. The five different options differ and you’ll want to choose the one that gives you the greatest benefit. Make tax time easier and faster by submitting the correct status.

The five different status are: Single, joint marriage, separate marriage, head of household or qualifying widow. If you meet the required criteria in more than one status, you should file using the one that gives you the highest tax advantage.

Single: If you are not married, you would usually file a single status. It is important to be aware of special circumstances that may affect individuals who file single files. The IRS considers taxpayers legally separated, even if only for the month of December. Single unmarried persons without dependents should file this status, but those with dependents should consider their eligibility for the head of the household. Divorce and annulment are also considered for one purpose.

Married: Married couples may choose to file a single tax return together, or they may file separately using the status of married couples. Legally married couples must live together only for a small part of the tax year in order to file as married. Couples whose union falls under common law practices may also file as married if the state legally recognizes their jurisdiction. Partners who live separately but are not legally divorced must still file as a married taxpayer most of the time. Married couples who file both incomes on a single return jointly process. These types of returns require both parties to sign, and the couple shares the responsibility for tax payment. There are only a few circumstances in which the couple would not be affected by joint responsibility, such as innocent wife relief, liability separation (if they did not live together for the tax year) and fair relief. The primary filer may need to sign the return as a proxy in some cases, but written explanation must be included. This can happen if the military deploys one spouse.

Widowed: If your spouse died during the tax year and you didn’t remarry, you can file married together. You can then file as a qualifying widow for the next two years if you remain unmarried. Once you are remarried, you should file your current spouse as married. If you remarry the same year that your spouse dies, you will have to file with your deceased spouse and your new spouse separately. It is an important part of filing your tax return to choose the right status. This is one of the easy ways to maximize your tax benefit and take advantage of all your ideal status deductions and credits.