Knowing which filing status you should choose is the first step in completing your tax return. Your status can affect different areas of your return, including taxation rates, requirements for filing, different credits, and which standard deduction you are eligible for. Your filing status is dependent on whether you are married or not.
If you are legally married as of December 31st, you are considered married for the whole tax year. The same is true for legal separation or divorce. Your marital status is determined in accordance with the laws of your state of residence.
For tax purposes you are considered a married taxpayer if:
- You live with your spouse and are legally married
- You live with your common-law spouse, as recognized in the state in which you reside, or per the state in which you began your common law marriage
- You are married and live separately from your spouse, but are not legally separated
- You are separated, but under a temporary divorce decree
Same-sex marriages are recognized by the IRS provided the marriage was performed in a state where the practice is legal. Taxpayers may file as married once they are deemed legally married, regardless of whether or not the state they currently reside in recognizes same-sex marriages or not.
Those who have been widow at some point during the year are considered married for the whole year, regardless of when the spouse became deceased. If you remarried during the first year, you are able to file jointly with your new spouse, as well as a married, filing separately return for your deceased spouse.
The five filing statuses are:
- Married, filing Jointly
- Married, filing Separately
- Head of Household
- Qualifying Widow(er)
Your financial adviser can help you determine the appropriate status to maximize your benefits.