Tax Tips & Information

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Filing Status

Your federal tax filing status is based on your marital and family situation. It is an important factor in determining whether you must file a return, what your standard deduction is, and your correct amount of tax.

Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your status for the entire year. If more than one filing status applies, you may choose the one that gives you the lowest tax obligation.

Single

Your filing status is single if, on the last day of the year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree, and you do not qualify for another filing status. The Standard Deduction for taxpayer’s filing as Single is $6,300 for the 2015 tax year.

Married Filing Joint

On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions. If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize deductions) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses. The Standard Deduction for Married Filing Joint is $12,600 for the 2015 tax year.

Married Filing Separate

You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return. If you and your spouse do not agree to file a joint return, you have to use this filing status unless you qualify for head of household status. The Standard Deduction for Married Filing Separate will be $6,300 for the 2015 tax year. Note- when one spouse itemizes deductions the other spouse cannot claim the standard deduction, and therefore must also itemize to claim their allowable deductions.

Head of Household

You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements:

  • You are unmarried or “considered unmarried” on the last day of the year; and
  • You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year; and
  • A “qualifying person” lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the “qualifying person” is your dependent parent, he or she does not have to live with you.

The Standard Deduction for Head of Household will be $9,250 for the 2015 tax year.

Qualifying Widow(er) with a Dependent Child

You may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) with dependent child as your filing status for 2 years following the year your spouse died. For example, if your spouse died in 2013 and you have not remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2014 and 2015. This filing status entitles you to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction ($12,600 for 2015) amount (if you do not itemize deductions). This status does not entitle you to file a joint return.

*If your spouse died during the current tax year, you can use married filing jointly as your filing status for this year if you otherwise qualify to use that status. The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse.

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