Your filing status is single if, on the last day of the year, you are unmarried or have a legal separation from your spouse, and you do not qualify for another filing status.
Married Filing Joint
On a joint return, you report your combined income and expenses. You can file jointly if only one spouse had income or deductions. If you file jointly, your tax liability may be lower than the tax liability if you file separate. Your standard deduction may be more, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.
Married Filing Separate
You may choose to file separate returns even if you are married. You may choose this if you wish to be responsible for only your own tax or if it lowers your tax liability. If you and your spouse do not wish to file a joint return, you must file as married filing separate unless you qualify for head of household status.
NOTE: When one spouse itemizes their deductions, the other spouse must also itemize on their return.
Head of Household
To use the Head of Household filing status, all of the following must be true:
- You are not married (or considered to be not married) on the last day of the year
- You pay more than half of the expenses for the home during the year
- A "qualifying person" lived in the home with you for more than half the year. If the "qualifying person" is your dependent parent, he or she is not required to live with you.
Qualifying Widow(er) with a Dependent Child
f your spouse died in a previous year, you may qualify to use Qualifying Widow(er) with a Dependent Child for two years following your spouse's death.
- If you do not have a qualifying dependent child, you will file as Single.
- If your spouse died during the current tax year, you can use married filing jointly as your filing status. You cannot file a joint return in the following years.
Not sure what status to use?
If you are unsure what filing status you should use, we recommend you use the IRS interactive tool What Is My Filing Status?. The interview takes about 5 minutes online and the answer you receive is based on information provided by you in response to the questions answered.