Taxpayers should understand their filing status well and at least be familiar with the other choices.
When preparing and filing a tax return, the filing status affects:
- If the taxpayer is required to file a federal tax return
- Their standard deduction amount
- If they can claim certain credits
- The amount of tax they should 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: 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 may result in more favorable treatment.
Head of household: Unmarried taxpayers may be able to file using this status, but special rules apply.
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.
*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.gov6
Footnotes and Sources
- IRS.gov, 2023