Generally, a taxpayer's marital status on the last day of the year determines their filing status for the year.
Filing Status determines:
- If the taxpayer is required to file a federal tax return
- If taxpayer should file a return to receive a refund
- Taxpayer's standard deduction
- Taxpayer's ability to claim certain tax credits
- Amount a taxpayer will owe
Single: A taxpayer's filing status is single if, on the last day of the year, they were unmarried or legally separated from their spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree, and they do not qualify for another filing status.
Qualifying Widow(er): A taxpayer may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) which allows them to use the MFJ standard deduction if they meet the following requirements:
- You qualified for married filing jointly with your spouse for the year he or she died. (It doesn’t matter if you actually filed as married filing jointly.)
- You didn’t remarry before the close of the tax year in which your spouse died.
- You have a child, stepchild, or adopted child you claim as your dependent. This doesn’t apply to a foster child.
- You paid more than half the cost of maintaining your home. This must be the main home of your dependent child for the entire year, except for temporary absences.
Married Filing Joint: Taxpayers can choose married filing jointly as their filing status if they are married and both the taxpayer and the spouse agree to file a joint return. When taxpayers choose to file a joint tax return, they will report combined income and deductions for the taxpayer and the spouse, even if one of them had no income or deductions for the year. Taxpayers may have a lower income tax rate as well as a higher standard deduction compared to other filing statuses. They may also qualify for certain tax credits and benefits that other statuses do not qualify for.
*Widow(er): If a taxpayer's spouse died in the current tax year, they can use married filing jointly as their filing status for the current tax year only, if they otherwise qualify to use that status. The taxpayer cannot have remarried in the same year. The year of death is the last year for which a taxpayer can file jointly with their deceased spouse.
Married Filing Separately: Taxpayers who use married filing separately are married individuals who decide not to file a joint tax return, or who are separated and do not qualify to use head of household status. Married couples using this filing status should refer to IRS Publication 501 to learn more about the credit and deduction limitations.
Head of Household: A taxpayer may be able to file as head of household if they meet all the following requirements:
- They were unmarried or 'considered unmarried' on the last day of the year.
- They paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
- A 'qualifying person' lived with the taxpayer in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the 'qualifying person' is their dependent parent, he or she does not have to physically live with the taxpayer.
If you are unsure about whether or not an individual can file as Head of Household (HOH), you can use the HOH worksheet to determine eligibility. To use the HOH worksheet in the tax program, from the main menu of TaxSlayer Pro select Configuration > Advanced Configuration (MACROs) > Use Head of Household Worksheet > Select Yes.
Ages 17 and up may qualify for Head of Household (HoH) filing status if they are:
- Claiming younger siblings as dependents and
- Are single or did not live with their spouse at any time during the last half of the tax year.