If your spouse died in 2008, you can use married filing jointly as your filing status for 2008 if you otherwise qualify to use that status. The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse. See Married Filing Jointly
You may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) with dependent child as your filing status for 2 years following the year your spouse died. For example, if your spouse died in 2007, and you have not remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2008 and 2009.
This filing status entitles you to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction amount (if you do not itemize deductions). This status does not entitle you to file a joint return.taxmap/pub17/p17-015.htm#en_us_publink100032159
If you file as qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, you can use either Form 1040A or Form 1040. Indicate your filing status by checking the box on line 5 of either form. Use the Married filing jointly column of the Tax Table or Section B of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.taxmap/pub17/p17-015.htm#en_us_publink100032160
You are eligible to file your 2008 return as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child if you meet all of the following tests.
- You were entitled to file a joint return with your spouse for the year your spouse died. It does not matter whether you actually filed a joint return.
- Your spouse died in 2006 or 2007 and you did not remarry before the end of 2008.
- You have a child or stepchild for whom you can claim an exemption. This does not include a foster child.
- This child lived in your home all year, except for temporary absences. See Temporary absences, earlier, under Head of Household. There are also exceptions, described later, for a child who was born or died during the year, and for a kidnapped child.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year. See Keeping Up a Home, earlier, under Head of Household.
As mentioned earlier, this filing status is available for only 2 years following the year your spouse died.
John Reed's wife died in 2006. John has not remarried. During 2007 and 2008, he continued to keep up a home for himself and his child, who lives with him and for whom he can claim an exemption. For 2006 he was entitled to file a joint return for himself and his deceased wife. For 2007 and 2008, he can file as qualifying widower with a dependent child. After 2008 he can file as head of household if he qualifies.taxmap/pub17/p17-015.htm#en_us_publink100032163
You may be eligible to file as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child if the child who qualifies you for this filing status is born or dies during the year. You must have provided more than half of the cost of keeping up a home that was the child's main home during the entire part of the year he or she was alive.