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Determine Your Tax Filing Status
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How you file is determined by your status as of December 31st. They are:

  • Single
  • Married filing Jointly
  • Married filing Separately
  • Head of Household
  • Qualifying Widow(er)

 

Filing jointly generally reduces the total federal tax liability to the family for married couples. However, you might file separately if:

  1. One spouse has no to low earnings and also has high medical expenses
  2. You don’t trust your spouse and don’t want to be implicated in tax fraud
  3. You and your spouse are estranged

Even though it may not make sense dollar-wise, divorcing couples often file separately.

Filing Head of Household requires a qualifying child or relative.  If a child, he or she must live with you for at least half the year.  A child can only be claimed by one taxpayer each year.  You must also have paid half or more of the cost of keeping a home.

Qualifying Widow(er) status is allowed for the unmarried surviving spouse with a qualifying child who pays half or more of the cost of keeping a home for the two tax years following the year of the spouse’s death.

 

<NEXT: Standard vs. Itemized Deductions>

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