The first step to consider in one’s endeavors of filing federal income tax is to determine filing status. Generally, filing status can be categorized as follows: Head of Household, Married Filing Jointly, Qualifying Widow (or Widower) with Dependent Child, Single and Married Filing Separately. The main advantage of establishing tax filing status is that one gets to know the necessary requirements needed when filing federal income tax returns. Additional benefits include determination of one’s eligibility for deductions and credits, determination of standard deductions, and determination of the correct amount of tax payable.
Some individuals may be eligible or qualified to more than one of the filing statuses. The IRS has eight important facts concerning filing status that every tax payer should be familiar with, in order to select the best filing status based on their situation.
- If you qualify for more than one status, then select that which offers you the least tax obligation.
- Married couples have the option of separately filing their tax returns. Therefore, each individual person would fall in the category Married Filing Separately if desired.
- An individual’s marital status as of the last day of that year would determine their marital status for the whole year.
- If an individual’s spouse passes away and he/she does not remarry during that year, then he/she is qualified to file for a joint tax return with the deceased spouse for that year.
- Persons who are legally separated as per the requirements of the state law, divorced, or unmarried qualify for Single filing category.
- An individual is eligible to select Qualifying Widow (or widower) with Dependent Child category if their spouse passed away in the previous year; they have a child that is a direct dependent, haven’t remarried, and certainly meet other requirements.
- A married couple filing a joint tax return together would qualify for the category or filing status called Married Filing Jointly.
- Unmarried taxpayers generally fall under the filing status of Head of Household
Additional information pertaining to the determination of an individual’s filing status can be obtained from IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information which is readily available on the IRS website or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676). One can also make use of the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA), a resourceful tax law tool on the website of the IRS that guides one through various questions and providing appropriate answers to questions on tax law, to know his or her filing status.