Tax Facts for Choosing the Right Tax Filing Status
Posted by William Byrnes on December 14, 2015
Using the correct filing status is very important when filing a tax return. The right status affects how much is owed in taxes. It may even affect whether a tax return must be filed.
When choosing a filing status, keep in mind that marital status on Dec. 31 is the status for the entire year. If more than one filing status applies, choose the one that will result in the lowest tax.
Note for same-sex married couples that new rules apply if legally married in a state or foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage. The same sex spouses generally must use a married filing status on the 2015 federal tax return and forward. This is true even if the same sex spouses now live in a state or foreign country that does not recognize same-sex marriage.
Here is a list of the five filing statuses to help you choose:
1. Single. This status normally applies if you aren’t married or are divorced or legally separated under state law.
2. Married Filing Jointly. A married couple can file one tax return together. If your spouse died in 2013, you usually can still file a joint return for that year.
3. Married Filing Separately. A married couple can choose to file two separate tax returns instead of one joint return. This status may be to your benefit if it results in less tax. You can also use it if you want to be responsible only for your own tax.
4. Head of Household. This status normally applies if you are not married. You also must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and a qualifying person. Some people choose this status by mistake. Be sure to check all the rules before you file.
5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. If your spouse died during 2014 or 2015 and you have a dependent child, this status may apply. Certain other conditions also apply.
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