If you’ve ever filed taxes before, you know that your filing status is one of the largest determining factors when it comes to your federal income tax return.
According to the IRS, there are five filing statuses for an individual tax return: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.
Your filing status has a huge impact on your tax return. It determines your standard deduction, your ability to claim certain tax credits and additional deductions, and your correct tax amount.
If you’ve recently married or experienced a life-changing event, your filing status may have changed — or you may qualify for more than one status. Here are four quick facts about the most common filing statuses that will help you choose the best option for you individual situation.
1. Your marital status on the last day of the year (12/31) determines your marital status for the entire year.
2. If more than one filing status applies to you, claim the one that gives you the lowest tax obligation.
3. Single filing status generally applies to anyone who is unmarried, divorced or legally separated according to state law.
4. If your spouse died during the year and you did not remarry during 2011, you can usually still file a Married Filing Jointly return with that spouse for the year of death.
5. A married couple may decide to file their returns separately. In this case, each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately, not Single.
6. Head of Household generally applies to taxpayers who are unmarried. You must also have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for you and a qualifying person to qualify for this filing status.
7. You may be able to choose Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child as your filing status if your spouse died during 2009 or 2010, you have a dependent child, have not remarried and you meet certain other conditions.
If you have further questions on your filing status, or prefer a professional tax preparer file your tax return this year, Beaton Accounting can help. All of our tax preparers are experienced tax professionals to ensure the accuracy of your filing and the maximization of your return.
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