Category: Tax Advice
What filing status should I choose?
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 to you, you may choose the one that gives you the lowest tax obligation.
TaxSlayer cannot choose your filing status for you, but we can provide information for you to make the best choice for you based on your situation. We offer a helpful "Filing Status Guide" which will walk you through several questions so that you may accurately determine which status is correct for you. Make sure you read the guidelines, as many errors are made when choosing a filing status.
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. For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife. The Standard Deduction for taxpayer's filing as Single is $5,950 for the 2012 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 $11,900 for the 2012 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 $5,950 for the 2012 tax year. NOTE- when one spouse itemizes deductions the other spouse cannot claim the standard deduction, and therefore must 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. The Standard Deduction for Head of Household will be $8,700 for the 2012 tax year.
- 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.
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 2010 and you have not remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2011 and 2012. This filing status entitles you to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction 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.
For more information about filing status see Pub 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information available on the IRS Website.
Additional Information: Life Events that may have a significant tax impact: click here
FILING STATUS FOR YOUR STATE RETURNS:
When creating your state return you have the option to choose from Resident, NonResident and Part Year status (based on the state you live in).
Resident- generally you are considered a resident of a state if you have a permanent place to live in that state for the entire tax year regardless of brief, infrequent absences.
Part Year and Non-resident status is determined on a state-by-state basis. You can view the guidelines for your particular state by logging in to our program, clicking State Section > select the state name from the drop down menu > Create State return.
(Note- Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, New Jersey and South Carolina do not offer Part Year designation.)