Choose the Best Filing Status

If you find that more than one filing status could apply to your situation, choose the filing status that allows you to owe the least amount of taxes.

The Five Filing Statuses

Single. 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. If one spouse died in 2021, the surviving spouse can use married filing jointly as their filing status for 2021 if they otherwise qualify to use that status. 

Married Filing Separately. Married couples can choose to file separate tax returns. This may benefit taxpayers who want to be responsible only for their own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.

Head of 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 filing a 2021 tax return if their spouse died in 2019 or 2020, and they didn’t remarry before the end of 2021 and have a dependent child. Other conditions also apply.