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 you money.
Your tax filing status is vital because it determines:
- Whether you are required to file a return
- The correct rate at
which you should be taxed
- The amount of your standard deduction
- The tax credits and deductions to which you are entitled
five IRS tax filing status categories are:
- Married Filing Separately
- Head of
- Qualifying Widow(er) with dependent child
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
- 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
- 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.
If more 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 Separately, respectively.
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.
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
- 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 is legal.
- 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 began.
- State law governs whether you are
considered married, divorced, or legally separated under a separate
- 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.
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.
If your spouse died during the tax year, you are considered married for the
entire year for filing status purposes.
Contact your 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.
Use this 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
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
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 requirements.
On June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the United States found the federal definition of marriage between a man and a woman only to be unconstitutional.
If your spouse
died during the tax year and you did not get married to someone else before the
end of the year, you are considered married to your deceased spouse for the
entire year. In this case, you can use Married Filing Jointly as your tax
filing status on a tax return for you and your deceased spouse. If you were
married again before the end of the year, you can file a joint return with your
new spouse; a separate return will have to be filed for the deceased spouse (if
required to file) with Married Filing Separately designated as the tax filing
status for the deceased spouse.
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 filing status.
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 due
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
Note: The, Who is a Qualifying Person for the Head of Household
Filing Status, table is only for individuals that are not married
of Household Qualifying Tests
||Married but considered unmarried
|You are not married on the last day of the year.
||You file a
|You paid more than half the cost of keeping
up ahome for you anda qualifying person for the tax year.
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
||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 circumstances.
||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 the child.)
Who Is a
Qualifying Person for the Head of Household Tax Filing
|If the person is
||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, or daughter-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
||A qualifying person
||They are not related to you3
||Not a qualifying person
||You cannot claim them as a dependent
||They are single
married and you can claim them as a dependent2
married and you cannot claim them as a dependent
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
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
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.
Note: Individuals that are using the
"considered unmarried" rules to claim head of household must have a child,
stepchild, or foster child for the relationship test.
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
- 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
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. The ruling provided a new definition for marriage at the federal level as a legal union between two individuals regardless of gender. The new definition requires individuals of the same genderwho were legally married in a state, country or other jurisdiction to be recognized as legally married for federal purposes. This ruling allows qualified taxpayers to amend their federal tax returns for all open years prior to September 16, 2013 and requires all taxpayers who are legally married to file as married taxpayers on federal tax returns for tax years beginning January 1, 2013. For more information on the tax effects of the ruling contact your local Jackson Hewitt office to talk to a Tax Pro.