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Know Your Tax Filing Status


Posted in on April 30, 2018

When you file your federal income taxes, you are going  to have to choose how you want to file your return. A Maryland tax attorney can help. There are different filing statuses you can choose from and there are major implications associated with selecting a filing status so make sure you get the right legal advice.

What is Your Tax Filing  Status?

There are five different tax filing status that you can choose when you submit your taxes to the IRS. These include:

  • Filing single
  • Married filing separately
  • Married filing jointly
  • Head of household
  • Qualifying widow or widower with a dependent child

You can qualify to file as married if you are married on December 31 of the tax year. This is true even if you are living apart but not legally separated, and it is true even if you are moving towards divorce and are legally separated under an interlocutory divorce decree but your divorce isn't finalized. In some cases, you can qualify to file as married even if your spouse died over the course of the year. 

When you are married, you can pick between filing as married filing jointly or as married filing separately. There aren't any special qualification requirements to file either a joint or a separate return; however, you and your spouse have to get on the same page because you both have to select the same filing status.

If you have not been married, if you are legally separated and not under an interlocutory decree of divorce, if your divorce has been finalized, or if you were in a marriage that has been annulled, you cannot qualify as married and you must choose one of the other filing statuses. 

Single is the default filing status unless you qualify either as head of household or unless you are considered to be a qualifying widow with a dependent child.

In order to qualify as head of household, you cannot be married, you must pay for more than half of the costs associated with maintaining a home,  and you must have a qualifying person such as a child or a parent or other relative who meets certain criteria.  To qualify as a widow or widower with a dependent child, you must be supporting a child and your spouse must have passed away within the past two years.

Your filing status can affect the tax bracket that you are in as well as the deductions and credits that you are permitted to claim. For example, you are not allowed to take certain deductions such as the earned income tax credit if you are married filing separately.

A Maryland tax attorney will assist you in understanding which filing status you qualify for and which filing status will make the most sense for your particular situation. A lot of money may be at stake, so you should contact an attorney for help as soon as possible when you are doing your taxes and selecting a filing status.

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