Every year, some employees
overpay their income taxes because they use the wrong filing status. Don't let
this happen to you. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service is in the business of saving
Your tax filing status is vital because it
- Whether you are required to file a return
correct rate at which you should be taxed
- The amount of your standard
- The tax credits and deductions to which you are
The five IRS tax filing status categories are:
- Married Filing Jointly
- Married Filing
- Head of Household
- Qualifying Widow(er) with
When considering which tax filing status you can
use, you should also consider:
- Your marital status on December 31
determines your marital status for the entire year.
- You cannot change
your tax filing status from Married Filing Jointly to Married Filing
Separately after the due date of the return.
- If you and your spouse
choose to file a joint return and there are state or federal taxes due, you
will both be responsible for the debt.
- A joint return requires both
signatures. If your spouse is away from home, you should either sign the
completed return and send it to your spouse to sign and mail, or obtain a
power of attorney to allow you to sign for your spouse.
than one tax filing status applies to you, you should choose the one that
gives you the lowest tax. Married Filing Jointly and Qualifying Widow(er)
with Dependent Child usually give you the lowest tax and highest standard
deduction, followed by Head of Household, Single, and Married Filing
Your marital status helps determine
which tax filing status you qualify to use. You are considered unmarried for
tax filing status purposes if you have never been married, or if your marriage
has been annulled. You are also considered unmarried for the entire tax year
if you are divorced or legally separated under a separate maintenance decree
on the last day of the year.
Marriage Qualifying Tests
Generally, you are considered married for the entire tax year if you and
your spouse meet any of the following tests on December 31 of the year:
- You are legally married and living together. Legal marriage includes a
marriage between two people of the same gender entered preformed and
registered in a state, country or other jurisdiction where same gender marriage
- You are married and not living together, but you are not
divorced or legally separated under a separate maintenance decree.
- You are living together in a common law marriage that is recognized in
the state where you now live or in the state where the common law marriage
- State law governs whether you are considered married,
divorced, or legally separated under a separate maintenance decree.
- You must end a marriage through divorce, annulment, or a legal separation to
be no longer married.
- State law where you reside governs your marital
status for the state tax return.
If you do not live with your
spouse during the last six months of the year and you meet certain other
tests, you may be considered unmarried for the Head of Household filing
status, even if you are not divorced or legally separated.
your spouse died during the tax year, you are considered married for the
entire year for filing status purposes.
neighorhood Jackson Hewitt office for more information or assistance. Use the
Office Locator feature available on this Web site or call 1-800-234-1040 to
find the Jackson Hewitt location nearest you.
tax filing status if you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse
(by divorce or separate maintenance) and do not qualify for any other filing
status. Your tax filing status may also be Single if you were widowed in a
previous year and did not get married again during the year. (See also Head of
Household and Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child, which carry lower tax
rates and higher standard deductions.)
Married Filing Jointly
You and your spouse may choose to file a joint return, which combines your
incomes and allowable expenses. The tax rate may be lower than the rates for
other filing statuses and, if you do not itemize deductions, the standard
deduction could be higher.
If you file a joint return, both
you and your spouse may be held responsible, jointly and individually, for the
tax and any interest or penalty due on that return. Each spouse may be held
responsible for all the tax due even if only one spouse earned all the income.
However, in some cases, one spouse may be relieved of joint liability for tax,
interest, and penalties on a joint return if they can satisfy certain IRS
If you are divorced under a final decree by the
last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and you
cannot choose Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately as your tax
Married Filing Separately
The tax rate for this
status is higher than the rates for other filing statuses. This status may
benefit you if you choose to be liable only for your own tax or if both you
and your spouse have high incomes or certain itemized deductions. If you use
this status and either you or your spouse decide to itemize your individual
deductions, you both must itemize your individual deductions. Certain credits
such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child and Dependent Care Credit
are usually not allowed when you are Married Filing Separately.
you are required to file separately, you should calculate your tax both ways
(using Married Filing Jointly and using Married Filing Separately as your tax
filing status). This ensures you choose the tax filing status that gives you
and your spouse the lowest combined tax.
If you file a separate
return, you generally report only your own income, exemptions, credits, and
deductions. You usually cannot take the personal exemption for your spouse
and you can never claim your spouse as your dependent.
After the due
date of the tax return, you usually cannot change the tax filing status on
your return from Married Filing Jointly to Married Filing Separately. You can
only make this change if you file the corrected returns before their original
Head of Household
This status applies if you are
unmarried on the last day of the year and if, for more than six months of the
tax year, you paid more than half the cost of the upkeep of a home for
yourself and a qualifying person. Other tests apply for a married individual
to be "considered unmarried" for this status. Generally, your tax rate will
be lower and your standard deduction higher than if you use the Single or
Married Filing Separately filing statuses.
Use the Head of Household
Qualifying Tests table and the Who Is a Qualifying Person for the Head of
Household Filing Status table to help you determine whether you qualify for
this filing status.
Note: The, Who is a Qualifying Person for the Head
of Household Filing Status, table is only for individuals that are not
Head of Household Qualifying Tests
||Married but considered
|You are not married on the last day of the
||You file a separate return.
You paid more
than half the cost of keeping up a home for you and a qualifying person for the
|You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for
you and a qualfying child for the tax year.
You have a
qualifying person who lived with you in your home for more than half the year
(except for temporary absences, such as education or vacation).Your dependent
parent does not have to
live with you.
|Your spouse did not live in
your home at any time during the last six months of the year.Your spouse is
considered to live in your home even if temporarily absent due to special
||Your home was the main home of
your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year.
||You must be able to claim a child, stepchild, or foster
child as a dependent. (You can still meet this test if you cannot claim the
child as a dependent only because the noncustodial parent is allowed to claim
Who Is a Qualifying Person for
the Head of Household Tax Filing Status?1
|If the person is your
||Then, that person is
Parent, grandparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister,
stepmother, stepfather, mother-in-law,
father-in-law, half brother, half
sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, son-in-law,
|You can claim them as a dependent2
||A qualifying person
||You cannot claim them as a dependent
|Uncle, aunt, nephew, or niece
||They are related
to you and you can claim them as a dependent2, 3
are not related to you3
||Not a qualifying
||You cannot claim
them as a dependent
||Not a qualifying person
||They are single
||A qualifying person4
||They are married and you can claim them as
||A qualifying person
||They are married and you cannot
claim them as a dependent
||Not a qualifying
1A person cannot
qualify more than one taxpayer to use the Head of Household tax filing status
for the year.
2If you can claim a person as a dependent
only because of a multiple support agreement, that person cannot be a
3You are related to an uncle or aunt if
they are the brother or sister of yours or your spouse's mother or father.You
are related by blood to a nephew or niece if they are the child of yours or
your spouse's brother or sister.
4This child is a qualifying
person even if you cannot claim the child as a dependent.
5This child is a qualifying person if you could claim the child
as a dependent except that the child's other parent claims them under the
special rules for a noncustodial parent.
For the tests a child must
meet to be considered your qualifying child for the Head of Household filing
status, please see Qualifying Child under the Dependents topic.
Individuals that are using the "considered unmarried" rules to claim head of
household must have a child, stepchild, or foster child for the relationship
Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child
If you are a
widow(er) and you have a qualifying child, you may be able to use this filing
status. You must meet all of the following tests:
- You qualified to
file a joint return with your spouse for the year your spouse died. It does
not matter whether you actually filed a joint return.
- You must have
provided more than half of the cost of upkeep for you and your dependent's
main home during the tax year.
- You have a child, stepchild, adopted
child, or foster child who you can claim as a dependent.
- You must not
have remarried before the end of the tax year.
- Your spouse must have
died in either of the two years preceding the current tax year
Note: If your spouse died during the current tax year, you may qualify to
use the Married Filing Jointly status.
Contact your neighborhood
Jackson Hewitt office for more information or assistance. Use the Office
Locator available on this Web site or call 1-800-234-1040 to find the Jackson
Hewitt location most convenient to you.