The Correct Filing Status

Choosing the Correct Filing Status

The right filing status can not only affect how much you owe, but also what credits you are eligible to receive. The filing status you choose can actually determine if you must file a tax return. For IRS purposes, anyone married on or before 31 December is deemed to be married for the whole tax year. For same-sex married couples, special rules apply. Whatever your current residence, if you and your spouse have been married in a state or country that legally recognizes same – sex marriage, you must file in marriage status. It does not matter whether or not your current home recognizes same-sex marriage. If there are more than one filing status, you should choose the one with the lowest tax obligation. For tax returns, five different filing statuses are:

Single. If you are not legally married or if you are divorced or separated under state law, this is your status.

Married filing jointly. For the couple, one tax return is filed together. A spouse who died in the tax year 2018 still has the right to a joint return. After the first year, the surviving spouse may file for the next two years under the Widow status. Separately married filing. A married couple can file separately instead of submitting a return together. This reduces the tax liability of the couple in some cases, but it is also used for those who only want to be responsible for their own taxes.

Head of household. If you are not married, this status may apply if you have paid for yourself and an eligible dependent more than 50 percent of your living expenses. This status is often misused, so when selecting this status it is important to be very careful.

Qualified widow(er) with dependent child. In addition to other conditions, this status may apply to anyone whose spouse died in the last two fiscal years. Anyone whose spouse died in 2016 or 2017 can be eligible for this year if the additional requirements are met.