June 13, 2013 | Tax Laws
Determining Filing Status
When taxpayers file their income tax return, one of the first questions required is their filing status. Filing an income tax return with the correct filing status is important for taxpayers; the filing status is used to determine filing requirements, the standard deductions, correct tax, and eligibility for tax credits.
The correct filing status can not only impact the benefits you receive, and the amount of taxes you must pay. The correct filing status could impact if you must file a federal income tax return.
The most common filing statues on federal income tax returns are “Single,” “Married Filing Jointly,” and “Head of Household.” The Head of Household status is often claimed in error. If you need help with determining your filing status, contact an experienced lawyer. The Internal Revenue Service also offers information to help determine your correct filing status:
- Your marital status on the last day of the calendar year you are filing for is your marital status for the entire year.
- If more than one filing status is applicable, the taxpayer should choose the one that results in the lowest amount of taxes owed.
- A couple that is married can file together with the Married Filing Jointly status. If your spouse died during 2012, you are allowed to file a joint return for 2012.
- A couple that is married can also opt to file their income tax returns separately. Both individuals would file with the Married Filing Separately status.
- If an individual is not married, not divorced, and not legally separated according to state law, they should file with Single filing status.
- If an individual is not married, and has paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for themselves and a qualifying person should file as Head of Household. This status is often claimed when it should not be. If you believe that you are able to file as Head of Household for a tax year, contact an experienced tax lawyer to confirm, because this status is often audited by the IRS and New York State.
- Qualifying Widow/Widower with Dependent Child is a complex filing status. It may apply to taxpayers with a dependent child for two years following the year your spouse died.
If you are still uncertain as to what your filing status is, the IRS offers an online questionnaire that can help taxpayers determine their filing status. Taxpayers will only need to know:
- The year the taxpayer is interested in determining status
- If the taxpayer was a citizen or resident alien for all of the tax year
- Marital status
- Amount of support provided for themself
- If they paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home
- The names of individuals who lived with the taxpayer, is their child, or someone whom the taxpayer provided financial support for during the year in question
Filing an income tax return with the correct filing status is important. If you have any questions as to what status best applies to you, or need help filing unfiled tax returns, contact an experienced lawyer who knows the tax code.