As taxpayers prepare for the upcoming tax season, it is important that they know their correct marital status. A taxpayer`s marital status defines the type of form they must use for filing taxes. The filing status can affect the amount of taxes they owe and can even determine if they have to file a tax return.
There are five filing statuses for the IRS return. They generally depend on the taxpayer`s marital status as of December 31. However, more than one filing status may apply in certain situations. If this is the case, taxpayers can generally choose the filing status that allows them to pay the least amount of tax.
These are the five statuses for declaration purposes:
• Single. Typically, this status is for taxpayers who are not legally married, divorced, or separated under a separate divorce or support decree governed by state law.
• Married filing a joint return. If a taxpayer is married, he/she can file a joint tax return with her/his partner. When one partner dies, the widowed can generally file a joint return for that year.
• Married filing a separate return. Married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. Doing so can result in less tax owed than filing a joint tax return.
• Head of household. Single taxpayers can file using this status, but special rules apply. For example, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for themselves and a qualifying person who lives in the home for half the year.
• Qualifying widow with dependent child. This status can apply to a taxpayer if her/his partner died during one of the previous two years and he/she has a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.
When preparing and filing a tax return, marital status affects:
- If the taxpayer must file a federal tax return
- If they must file a return to receive a refund
- Their standard credit amounts
- If they can claim other credits that can benefit them.
- The amount of taxes they must pay