Everything You Need To Know About the Single Filing Status

Everything You Need To Know About the Single Filing Status

In a Nutshell “Single” isn’t just the situation you choose on a dating app. It’s also a tax-filing classification that helps the IRS determine whether you should file, what your standard deduction is, which credits you may be eligible for and how much tax you owe. But not everyone who’s unmarried should use this status on their tax return. Other conditions, like the head of household or qualifying widow(er), may allow eligible filers to claim more significant tax breaks.  The single tax-filing status is the default for unmarried people who don’t qualify for another condition. But it pays to double-check your tax situation to be sure you’re using the correct, and most beneficial, status.

But how do you know when to file as single or when you can file with another status?

To know how to go on filling in for the Single status, you will need a Tax Preparer.

Let’s take a look at the requirements.

Filing-status basics

The IRS recognizes five filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widow(er) of the 150 million and above federal returns filed in the tax year 2016, about 71.4 million used the single status, according to the IRS.

Although you can’t pick just any filing status you want, you may use the one that taxes you the least — so long you qualify.

The single filing status is typically the “least favorable, so be sure you look at all your circumstances before you check the box that says you’re single,” 

Common question:

At what time did filing statuses first appear on federal income tax forms?

The filing statuses we know today (single, head of household, qualifying widow(er), married filing jointly and married filing separately) first appeared on the federal Form 1040 in 1961

Eligibility requirements for “filing single.”

The IRS says all taxpayers will use a revamped Form 1040 for the 2018 tax year. The simplified form will be about half the size of the older version and will replace the Form 1040EZ and Form 1040A.

Typically, you’ll use the single filing status on this form if all of the following descriptions apply to you:

At, the last day of the year, your situation determines if you are considered married. If you’ve never married, or you’re legally separated or divorced when December 31 rolls around, you’re therefore unmarried for the entire year.

You don’t qualify as the head of household. For example, if you don’t pay at least half the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and not having a dependent or qualifying person, you likely don’t qualify.

Your spouse died before January 1 of the tax year, you didn’t remarry before the end of the year, and you have no qualifying child or dependent. For the 2018 tax year, single filers are required to file a federal income tax return if they are younger than 65, and their adjusted gross income was at least $12,000 during the tax year.

They are 65 or older and had adjusted gross income of at least $13,600 during the tax year.

There are a few life events that may cause you to change your status from  a single on your return, including the following:

  • Getting married; If you get married, you can file as married filing jointly or married filing separately.
  • Adding a child or other dependent If you have a child or a qualifying dependent and remain unmarried, you may be able to use the head-of-household status.
  •  A passing Spouse: If you have a qualifying child and your spouse passed away within the previous two tax years, you may be able to file as a qualifying widow(er), as long as you don’t remarry by the end of the current tax year.

Note: it is essential to know that proper bookkeeping is in place as this stands as the basis on which tax calculation is carried out. 

Standard deduction and tax rates for single filers

Regardless of your tax-filing status, you can either itemize your deductions or take the standard deduction which is a fixed dollar amount that automatically reduces your taxable income on your income tax return. If your filing status for the 2018 tax year is single, you can take a standard deduction of $12,000. And it could be higher if you’re 65 or older or are blind.

Tax rates

The U.S. tax code is progressive, meaning the highest tax bracket your earnings fall into is not the only rate that is applied to your taxable income. Instead, if your income falls within multiple brackets, you’ll pay the price for each bracket only on the portion of your income that is within that bracket’s thresholds.

Pros and cons of the single filing status

Advantages of filing solo

If you’re single, you’ll only need to gather information and tax forms for yourself. That’s probably a lot less paperwork than if you were filing jointly with a spouse. It might even take less time to prepare your return. If this can’t be carried out by you then, you need to consult the help of an Accountant who can handle your financial books to help you gather the necessary information required.

But even though it may be simpler to have just one set of tax circumstances to consider when you’re filing your federal income taxes, the single filing status typically offers the least tax advantages.

Drawbacks to filing solo

The standard deduction for single filers (and people married filing separately) is the lowest among the filing statuses, which means you may not be able to lower your taxable income, and consequently your tax liability, as much as other filers.

Bottom line

If you’re unmarried and have no kids, chances are you’ll file your federal income tax return under the single status. But to save money, it pays to check whether you qualify as head of household or another more-beneficial tax-filing status.