Happy Tax Season! Are you ready to file your tax return? Should you file your tax return? There are three factors determining whether or not you are required to file a tax return. They are your gross income, filing Status, and your age.
We will focus on filing status, particularly on how to use each filing status. There are 5 filing status. They are single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.
You can file as single if on the last day of tax year you are unmarried or legally separated, or you were widowed before January 1, 2018 and didn’t remarry in 2017. You are considered single for the whole year if on the last day of the tax year you are unmarried or legally separated.
Your filing status is Married Filing Jointly if on the last day of tax year you are married. This is true even if you don’t live with your spouse, or your spoused died during the tax year and you didn’t remarry during the year. You can’t use married filing jointly if your divorce is finalized by the last day of the tax year.
Married Filing Separately:
You can choose married filing separate if you choose to be responsible only for your own tax. You can change the filing status from married filing separate to married filing jointly within 3 years from the due date of the separate returns. However, you can’t change the filing status from married filing jointly to married filing separately after the due date of the return.
Married filing separately in general result in paying more tax than married filing jointly. It also disqualifies you from certain tax benefits. You also still need your spouse’s social security number to file Married Filing Separately.
If you live apart from your spouse but you are still married, you can file as head of household provided that you meet these requirements:
• Your spouse did not live in your home at any time during the last 6 months
• Your home was the primary home of your child, stepchild, or eligible foster child for more than half the year.
• You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year
• You must be able to claim the exemption for the child.
Head of The household:
You also file as head of the household if you meet these requirements:
• You are not married or considered as unmarried as of the last day of the tax year.
• You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the tax year
• You have a qualifying person who lived with you in the home for more than half the tax year. If your qualifying person is your parent, they do not have to live with you.
Qualifying person can be your unmarried child including your child, grandchild, stepchild, or eligible foster child. If your unmarried child is your qualifying child, then he or she doesn’t have to be your dependent to be a qualifying person.
Qualifying person can include your married child including your child, grandchild, stepchild, or eligible foster child. The married child must be your dependent in general. However, the child can still be a qualifying child if all these requirements are met:
• The child is your qualifying child
• The child doesn’t file a joint return unless it is filed only to claim a refund and no tax liability would exist for either spouse had they file separate returns.
• The child is a US citizen or resident, or a resident of Canada or Mexico
Qualifying person can also be your qualifying relative who is your dependent. A qualifying relative can be your child who is not a qualifying child, parent, grandparent, brother or sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or descendent of any of them such niece or nephew, but not include cousins.
Parent not living with you is considered qualifying person. You must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the parent’s main home for the entire year. The parent must be your dependent.
The last filing status available is Qualifying Widow(er) with dependent child. You can use this filing status if all these requirements are met:
• Your spouse died in 2015 or 2016 and you didn’t remarry before the end of 2017
• You could have filed a married filing jointly with your spouse for the tax year he or she died.
• You have a child or stepchild whom you can claim as dependent (foster child is excluded)
• You paid over half the cost of keeping up a home that is the primary home for you and your dependent child for the entire year.