Press Releases Enlightens Readers on How Does One Choose the Correct Filing Status

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January 29, 2015

For IRS purposes, anyone who is married on or before December 31st, is considered married for the entire tax year. Special rules apply to same-sex married couples. Regardless of one's current residence, if one and their spouse were married in a state or country that legally recognizes same-sex marriage, one must file under a married status. It doesn't matter if one's current residence recognizes same-sex marriage or not.

If multiple filing statuses apply, one should choose the one with the lowest tax obligation. The five different filing statuses for tax returns are:

  • Single. If one is not legally married, or one is divorced or separated in accordance with state law, this is the status that applies to him/her.

  • Married Filing Jointly. One tax return is filed together for the couple. A spouse who passed away during the tax year (2014) is still eligible for a joint return. After the initial year, the surviving spouse can file under the Widow(er) status for the next two years.

  • Married Filing Separately. Instead of filing one return together, a married couple can file separately. In some cases, this lowers the tax liability for the couple; however it's also used for those who only want to hold accountability for their own taxes.

  • Head of Household. If one is not married, this status may apply if one paid more than 50% of the living expenses for themselves and an eligible dependent. This status is often misused, so it's important to be extra careful when selecting this status.

  • Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. Along with other conditions, this status can apply to anyone whose spouse died within the previous two tax years. For this year, anyone whose spouse died in 2012 or 2013 may be eligible, if they meet the additional requirements.

"Determining which status to file under can seem complicated, however it's a crucial step in completing income tax returns." explained Paul Stanley of "Once a taxpayer has researched the benefits each status can provide, the taxpayer will be able to make an informed choice about how one will need to file and what the requirements for each status are."