What are my Filing Status options?
Single - You were unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree on December 31st.
Married Filing Jointly - You were married on December 31st and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint tax return, both spouses are reporting all their income, deductions and credits on one tax return.
Married Filing Separately - You were married or legally separated on December 31st and you and your spouse wish to file separate tax returns. When filing separately:
- Each spouse is responsible for claiming their own income, exemptions, credits, and deductions.
- Each spouse must file using the same method of deductions. For example, if your spouse files a Schedule A for itemizing their deductions, you too will have to file using the Schedule A, even if your standard deduction would be more beneficial to you.
- Filing separately disqualifies you from various credits and deductions such as education credits, student loan interest deductions, child care credit and earned income credit.
Head of Household - You were unmarried or "considered unmarried" on December 31st as well as have paid for more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
- If unmarried, you must have a qualifying person other than your parent(s) living with you in your home for more than half the year. Your parents do not need to reside with you, as long as you can claim them as dependents, you qualify for this status.
- Married filers are "considered unmarried" if they lived apart for at least the last six months of the year. Married filers who are "considered unmarried" must claim their child as a dependent to qualify for this status. Non-child dependents in your home don't qualify. You must meet the qualifications to claim your child as your dependent, even if the other (noncustodial) parent is actually claiming the child as a dependent on their return.
Qualifying Widow(er) - If you have a dependent and your spouse has died, you may be eligible to file as a qualifying widow(er) for 2 years following the year your spouse died. In order to use this filing status, all of the following must be true.
- The year in which your spouse died, you were eligible to file as Married Filing Jointly.
- Your spouse died in 2018 or 2019 and you have not remarried before the end of 2020.
- You have a child or stepchild (except for a foster child) whom you can claim as a dependent and lived with you all year. If the only reasons you cannot claim your child as a dependent because the child earned more than $4,200 or filed a joint tax return, you can still qualify for this filing status.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the year.