Hertsel Shadian, Attorney at Law, LLC

Eight Facts About Tax Return Filing Status

11 November 2010

Everyone who files a Federal tax return must determine which filing status applies to them. It is important you choose your correct filing status since it determines your standard deduction, the amount of tax you owe and ultimately, any refund owed to you. Here are eight facts about the five filing status options which you should know in order to choose the correct filing status for your situation.

  1. Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your marital status for the entire year.
  2. If more than one filing status applies to you, choose the one that gives you the lowest tax obligation.
  3. Single filing status generally applies to anyone who is unmarried, divorced or legally separated according to state law. (Note that under current Federal law, same-sex marriages, state-law civil unions and state-law domestic partnerships do not qualify for married status for tax filing purposes).
  4. A married couple may file a joint return together. The couple’s filing status would be Married Filing Jointly.
  5. If your spouse died during the year and you did not remarry during the same year, you may still file a joint return with that spouse for the year of death, provided the joint return election is not revoked by a personal representative for the deceased spouse.
  6. A married couple may elect to file their returns separately. Each person’s filing status generally would be Married Filing Separately.
  7. Head of Household generally applies to taxpayers who are unmarried. You also must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for you and a qualifying person to qualify for this filing status.
  8. You may be able to choose Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child as your filing status if your spouse recently died, if you have a dependent child, and if you meet certain other conditions.

There is more information about determining your filing status in IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information. Publication 501 also is available on the IRS web site at www.IRS.gov or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). For further information, consult your professional tax preparer or tax advisor.