Taxpayers need to know their correct filing status and be familiar with each option. The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant can help them determine their filing status.
A taxpayer’s filing status typically depends on whether they are single or married on Dec. 31, which determines their filing status for that entire year.
More than one filing status may apply in certain situations. If this is the case, taxpayers can usually choose the filing status that allows them to owe the least amount of tax, according to a news release.
When preparing and filing a tax return, the filing status affects:
- If the taxpayer is required to file a federal tax return
- If they should file a return to receive a refund
- Their standard deduction amount
- If they can claim certain credits
- The amount of tax they should pay
Here are the five filing statuses:
- Single. Normally, this status is for taxpayers who are unmarried, divorced, or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree governed by state law.
- Married filing jointly. If a taxpayer is married, they can file a joint tax return with their spouse. When a spouse passes away, the widowed spouse can usually file a joint return for that year.
- Married filing separately. Married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. When doing so, may result in less tax owed than filing a joint tax return.
- Head of a household. Unmarried taxpayers may be able to file using this status, but special rules apply. For example, the taxpayer must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for themselves and a qualifying person living in the home for half the year.
- Qualifying widow or widower with dependent child. This status may apply to a taxpayer if their spouse died during one of the previous two years and they have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.
More Tax Tips
The May 17 deadline for individuals to file and pay their federal income tax is fast approaching. While paying taxes is not optional, people do have options when it comes to how they pay taxes. The IRS offers a variety of ways to pay taxes.
Some taxpayers must make quarterly estimated tax payments throughout the year. This includes sole proprietors, partners, and S corporation shareholders who expect to owe $1,000 or more when they file. Individuals who participate in the gig economy might also have to make estimated payments. The deadline to pay estimated taxes remains April 15, 2021, according to a news release
Here are five ways for people who need to pay their taxes. They can:
- Pay when they e-file using their bank account, at no charge, using electronic funds withdrawal.
- Use IRS Direct Pay which allows taxpayers to pay electronically directly from their checking or savings account for free. They can choose to receive email notifications about their payments when they pay this way. Taxpayers should watch out for email schemes. IRS Direct Pay sends emails only to users who request the service.
- Pay using a payment processor by credit card, debit card, or digital wallet options. Taxpayers can make these payments online, by phone, or through the IRS2Go app.
- Make a cash payment at more than 60,000 participating retail locations nationwide. To pay with cash, visit IRS.gov and follow the instructions.
- Pay over time by applying for an online payment agreement. Once the IRS accepts an agreement, the taxpayers can make their payments in monthly installments.