Filing of tax return under US tax law requires that you first ascertain your filing status. Under the Internal Revenue Code , there are five types of status under which you can file tax return. Filing status will actually determine what tax rate or the the basic tax exemption or standard deductions and a whole lots of other relief and conditions applies to you. So , this post is devoted on the ways you can find out exact filing status that applies to you .
- Married Filing Jointly.
- Married Filing Separately.
- Head of Household.
- Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.
Single Filing Status
It is easy to understand . But most important is that you are having single filing status , if you are not considered married and other status fits it. Who are considered married or unmarried is explained below .
When Considered Married ?
In any of the following circumstances , you are considered married
- You are actually married and living together or
- You are living together in a common law marriage recognized in the state where you now live or in the state where the common law marriage began. or
- You are married but chose to live single . In other words , you and your spouse are not divorced legally or separated under a decree of separate maintenance.
If you are considered married , you can not avail of either single or head of household status for filing tax return . Widower status is naturally not yours. You will have to chose either of two status-married filing jointly or married filing separately.
Married Filing Jointly
If you are considered married , you can file a joint return provided both -husband and wife – agree to file tax return jointly. One of the main reason for doing so is lower tax rate than filing in married filing separately status.
Please note that if one of the partners dies during tax year, you are still considered married for the tax year and allowed to file the joint return for the tax year. But , this is not the case you are divorced legally during the tax year. Hence if you are divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and you cannot have the status of married filing jointly as your filing status
Married Filing Separately
If you are married and both the spouse decide to file separate returns, you will have to chose Married Filing Separately . Please reading special rules invoked in case of filing status married filing separately
Head of Household
Head of household status , as stated above, is only for person who is unmarried or considered unmarried .
You may be able to file as head of household if you are not married meet all the following requirements.
- You are unmarried or “considered unmarried” on the last day of the year.
- 50% of the cost of keeping up a home for the tax year was borne by you.
- A qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year . Two exceptions apply to this rule- temporary absences, such as school also considered as living days and the rule does not apply inc case of parents).
You may be able to file as head of household if you are considered unmarried meet all the following requirements. Read full article titiled who can file tax return as Head of Household
Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child
You qualify to file tax return as widow(er) with dependent child for 2 years following the year your spouse died if you meet all of the following tests.
- You were entitled to file a joint return with your spouse for the year your spouse died. It doesn’t matter whether you actually filed a joint return.
- Your spouse died one or two years before the tax year in which you are trying to filing status of Qualifying Widow(er) with Depended Child . For example if your spouse dies in 2013 or 2014 and you didn’t remarry before the end of 2015, you can adopt that filing status.
- You have a child or stepchild living with you except temporary absence and you can claim an exemption for them.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.