Taxpayers must know their correct filing status and be familiar with each choice. When preparing and filing a tax return, the filing status affects:
- whether taxpayers are required to file a federal tax return
- whether they should file a return to receive a refund
- their standard deduction amount
- whether they can claim certain credits
- the amount of tax they pay
Here are the five 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: Taxpayers who are married 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 results in a smaller tax burden than filing a joint tax return.
Head of household: Unmarried taxpayers may be able to file under this status, but special rules apply. For example, they must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining 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 taxpayers whose spouse died during one of the previous two years and who have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.
*This information is not intended to substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax professional.
Tip adapted from IRS.gov9
Footnotes and Sources
- IRS.gov, May 1, 2023.