Love, Relationships, and Filing Status: Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Offers Taxpayer Tips This Valentine’s Day

PARSIPPANY, N.J. (February 14, 2014)-Most people think of Valentine's Day as a time for romance and love, not a time to think about taxes.  But, as we enter the second month of the 2014 tax season, Jackson Hewitt, an industry-leading provider of full service tax preparation, reminds taxpayers that their relationship status can impact their taxes. There are five filing statuses - Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualified Widow - and choosing the right one can help taxpayers make the most out of their tax situation.

Did you just get married? According to the Center for Disease Control CDC, about 2 million people get married in the U.S. each year.

  • Married taxpayers can choose to file Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately based on their individual situation.
  • Generally, using the Married Filing Jointly status provides the lowest tax liability and the highest standard deduction. However, if one of the filers has large deductions or expenses, the Married Filing Separately status may be more beneficial.
  • Certain credits, including the credit for Child and Dependent Care Expenses, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and the Education credits, are not available under the 'Married Filing Separately' status.

Are you recently divorced? As of 2011, divorces were just shy of 900,000 per year.

  • You are considered a single taxpayer if you are divorced before midnight on December 31. 
  • You may be able to file as Head of Household instead of Single if you have a qualifying child or a dependent relative, or if you provided more than half of the support of the household and your dependent lived with you for at least half of the year.
  • Using the Head of Household status usually provides a higher standard deduction and lower taxes than the Single status.

Are you a single parent? You're not alone. Based on the Census Bureau, more than 11 million households were single families in 2011. Filing status considerations for you include: 

  • A single parent can usually claim the Head of Household filing status if he or she is the only adult in the household, provides more than half the cost of running the home (such as rent, utilities and food) and has dependent children or other relatives.  Of the five statuses listed above, this has the second-highest standard deduction amount and the second-lowest taxes. 
  • However, if the parent is still married and has not lived apart from his or her spouse for the last half of the year, or the dependent is a relative other than a child, the taxpayer doesn't usually qualify as Head of Household and instead must file as Married Filing Separately, which has the lowest standard deduction and the highest taxes.

Are you taking a second chance on love? One of the most common family structures next to the Single Parent household is the Blended Family.  A blended family is a combination of two parents with children from previous relationships and/or from the current relationship. 

  • When the parents remarry, they file a Married Filing Jointly return with their new spouse, claiming their children from their new relationship and any eligible children from any previous relationships. Remarried parents can file Married Filing Separately and claim their spouse's children, but they generally can't file Head of Household.  Children can live with one set of parents but be claimed on the tax return of another set of parents. 

Did you get married under newly legalized same-sex marriage? New this year, the IRS recognizes same-sex couples as married taxpayers if they are legally married. 

  • Beginning September 16, 2013, married same-sex taxpayers must use the same rules governing other married couples and generally will file as either Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately on their federal income tax returns. 
  • States can determine their own rules on same-sex marriage, and many states do not recognize these as legal marriages.  If a same-sex couple was legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, but lives and files taxes in a state that doesn't, the taxpayers will file their federal return under the rules for married taxpayers and file individual state tax returns under the state's rules for single taxpayers. 

Sound complicated? Well, in some cases it certainly can be. Your local Jackson Hewitt tax preparer can help you figure out which filing status gets you the lowest taxes and all tax credits and deductions you and your family are eligible for.

About Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. 
Jackson Hewitt Tax Service Inc. is an industry-leading provider of full service individual federal and state income tax preparation, with approximately 6,500 franchised and company-owned locations throughout the United States, including locations in Walmart stores nationwide, and Sears stores in the United States and Puerto Rico in the 2014 tax season. Jackson Hewitt Tax Service  also offers an online tax preparation product atwww.JacksonHewittOnline.com. For more information, or to locate your neighborhood Jackson Hewitt office, visit www.JacksonHewitt.com or call 1-800-234-1040. Jackson Hewitt can also be found on Facebook and Twitter. Most offices are independently owned and operated.