The IRS allows taxpayers to file returns as single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, or qualifying widow(er).
Your marital status on December 31st determines your marital status for the entire year. If you were married during 2018, whether is was January 1st or December 31st, you are considered married for the whole year. Same applies for divorce.
If you are legally married you have only two options for filing, married filing jointly or married filing separately. You cannot file as a single taxpayer or head of household. Use caution when deciding to file as married filing separately status, as there are a few downfalls to this filing status.Taxpayers are no longer eligible for credits such as earned income, child dependent care, adoption, and education when choosing this status.
If your spouse dies during the year, you are considered married for that whole tax year. If you have a dependent child, you then can file as a “qualifying widow” the following two years and retain the benefits of married filing jointly.
Marital status also applies to common law marriage. In Kansas, common law marriage is recognized if the couple considers themselves to be married and publically holds themselves out to be married. No minimum cohabitation is required.
In order to file as head of household, the taxpayer must have paid more than half of the cost of keeping up the home, and that home is the principal residence for a qualifying child or qualifying relative.
If you do not qualify for any of the above statuses, your filing status would be single.
Our articles are not intended to be tax advice. To seek tax advice regarding your specific tax situation, it is best practice to consult with a Certified Public Accountant.