The IRS requests your personal relationship status at the top of Federal Form 1040 for tax purposes.
Each filing provides you with your standard deduction, which changes each tax year. A major requirement is selecting the correct filing status. There are five filing statuses in total.
- Single: You were not married on the last day of the year and do not qualify for any other filing status, you were legally separated, or widowed before January 1st.
- Married filing jointly: You were married at the end of the tax year, your spouse died during the tax year, and you did not remarry by the end of the tax year, your spouse died before filing your return.
- Married filing separately: If you were married at the end of the tax year both spouses must elect this status. Keep in mind, if you are filing married filing separately, you must provide your Spouse’s Name and Social Security Number.
- Head of household: You must have an unmarried qualifying dependent. You were married but lived apart from your spouse (for the last 6 months of the tax year) or you are married to a nonresident alien.
- Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child: Your spouse died in the two prior tax years, you have a qualifying child as a dependent, you could have filed a joint return with your spouse the year he or she died even if you didn’t actually do so.
If you were unmarried, divorced, or legally separated from your spouse and you do not qualify for another filing status on the last day of the tax year, you must file your taxes using the single filing status and you can pay less tax. If you select the Married filing separately status you will usually pay more tax than if you use another filing status for which you qualify. You also can’t take the standard deduction if your spouse itemizes deductions.