Answer: The best filing status for you depends upon which status you can qualify for and your particular circumstances. Tax savings are only one consideration when selecting your filing status. For example, you might not want to file a joint return with your spouse for personal reasons. Here are the five filing statuses and the qualifications you must meet to use them.
Single – You can use this status if you are unmarried at the end of the year or legally separated according to state law.
Head of household – You can choose this status if you are single at the end of the year, and you have a dependent and meet certain requirements. In some cases, married, but separated individuals can also use this status. If you’re eligible to claim head of household status, you’ll probably pay less tax than filing as a single taxpayer.
Married filing joint – You can use this status if you are married at the end of the year. However, you cannot use this status if you are legally separated on the last day of the year.
Married filing separate – You can use this status if you are married, but choose not to file a joint return with your spouse. When legally separated, you cannot use “married filing separate” filing status.
Qualifying widow(er) – You can choose this status if your spouse died in the last two years, you claim a dependent, and you meet certain other requirements. You then can use the more favorable tax rates for married filing jointly rather than the rates for single taxpayers.
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