Choosing your filing status is one of the first sections you fill out when preparing your taxes. Your filing status refers to your marital status and your family situation. It’s important to choose the correct option for your specific situation so your return will reflect accordingly. Your filing status will determine which tax forms you need to complete, and which income bracket you’ll fall under.
Something to keep in mind is the IRS looks at your marital status on the last day of Tax Year to determine your status for the entire Tax Year. In this case, it would be December 31, 2019.
If you were unmarried or legally separated from your spouse on December 31, you would qualify as single (unless you qualify as something else).
Head of Household
To qualify, you must be unmarried or legally separated as of the last day of the Tax Year, paid more than half of the household costs during the Tax Year, and a qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year. All three requirements must be met to qualify as Head of Household.
Married filing jointly
You must be married, and you and your spouse must file the same way. Your incomes will be combined and your combined expenses will be deducted.
Married filing separately
To qualify, you must be married, and you and your spouse must file the same way. This could be beneficial for some couples. Use a tax return calculator for an estimate to determine which would be the best option for you and your spouse.
Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child
If your spouse died during the Tax Year, then you must file jointly. However, for the next two years following your spouse’s death, you can file as Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. You can only file this way if you have a dependent child.
If you’re confused which filing status you fall under, it’s best to talk with your tax preparer or other tax professional before completing the rest of your tax return.