Posted by Jim McClaflin, EA, NTPI Fellow

Picking the Right Filing Status

Picking the Right Filing Status

When you are getting ready to work on your tax return, there are a lot of questions that you may have along the way. You might be curious about how much you are going to have to put into paying tax bill. You may ask your tax professional about the different deductions and credits that you can qualify for to reduce how much you owe at the end of the year. One question that some people have about how they should file and claim things on their tax return.


There are three main filing types that you can choose when it comes to tax season. If you are single, you will just be able to claim the single tax credit. But as a married couple, you can choose to file jointly or separately depending on your personal situation. When you are ready to determine which filing status is right for you, make sure to contact your tax professional as soon as possible to get started.


Filing Single


If you are single, you will need to file your tax return as such. It does not matter if you are engaged, dating, divorced, or some other combination, if you are not married, you are not able to claim any of the other filing status options. In some cases, such as when you have children and are the one allowed to claim these children, you can get head of the household which will save you a bit of money, but you will not be able to claim all of the same credits that those who are married can get.


For purposes of your tax return, you need to look at your filing status as of December 31 of the year you are filing. If you got married on December 30, you would file your taxes as one of the two married options. On the other hand, if your divorce was finalized or you were single for another reason starting on December 30 or 31, you would have to use the single filing status.

If you need some help determining your filing status, make sure to talk with your tax professional to get it all done right the first time.


Filing Married  Jointly


The most common way to file your taxes when you are married is to file them together. The IRS will allow you to both claim as head of the household and you can get the earned income credit as well, something that is not allowed on the other filing status for married people. This can save you a lot of money and is one of the primary reasons that people will choose this kind of filing status.


There are some other benefits that you can enjoy with it as well. In addition to the deductions listed above, you will be able to share in the other deductions, including the amount that you can deduct for your student loan interest payments being higher. You will not need to worry about splitting up the assets, such as your home, who can claim the children, and more, making it much easier to get your tax return done without all of the hassle.


If you are interested in doing your tax return and would like to file married jointly, you should talk to your tax professional before getting started to ensure that you are getting everything done the right way.


Filing Married  Separately


In some cases, you and your spouse may decide that it is best to file separately at tax time. This isn’t going to give you some of the deductions that you would expect like other years, but there are some benefits. To start, if you own your business or work from home, it may be a good idea to file two different tax returns. This makes it easier to keep your forms separate from each other so you have one for personal use and one for business use. Just make sure that you are certain on who is allowed to claim what on each return.

Another reason that you may choose to file separately is to keep your assets apart. In this case, if something happens and one of the spouses is audited with the IRS, they will only go after one spouse, protecting the assets and money of the other one. If you are worried about filing jointly because of this issue, going with a separate tax return may be the best option for you.


Figuring out which of these options is the best for your tax season is not always that easy. Sometimes learning the exact numbers that are involved will help to make the difference. You can work with a tax professional to see how your taxes will come up with both of them and to see if it is worth it or not to separate out the assets. Make sure to ask lots of questions and get the full picture before starting.


Tax season is confusing enough. You want to make sure that you submit all of your information correctly without messing up but you also want to bring in as much for refunds as possible. Make sure to work with a tax professional on all of your tax return needs, whether they are big and small or you just have a few questions. Make sure to contact our offices today to get started.

Jim McClaflin, EA, NTPI Fellow
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