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previous page Previous Page: Publication 501 - Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information - Who Should File
next page Next Page: Publication 501 - Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information - Exemptions
 Use previous pagenext page to find additional occurrences of topic items.Index for this Publication
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041739

Filing Status(p5)


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previous topic occurrence Filing Status next topic occurrence

You must determine your filing status before you can determine your filing requirements, standard deduction (discussed later), and correct tax. You figure your correct tax by using the section of the Tax Computation Worksheet or the column in the Tax Table that applies to your filing status.
You also use your filing status in determining whether you are eligible to claim certain other deductions and credits.
There are five filing statuses: If more than one filing status applies to you, choose the one that will give you the lowest tax.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041740

Marital Status(p5)


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previous topic occurrence Marital Status next topic occurrence

In general, your filing status depends on whether you are considered unmarried or married. For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041741

Unmarried persons.(p5)


rule
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You are considered unmarried for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.
State law governs whether you are married or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041742

Divorced persons.(p5)
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If you are divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041743

Divorce and remarriage.(p5)
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If you obtain a divorce in one year for the sole purpose of filing tax returns as unmarried individuals, and at the time of divorce you intended to and did remarry each other in the next tax year, you and your spouse must file as married individuals.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041744

Annulled marriages.(p5)
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If you obtain a court decree of annulment, which holds that no valid marriage ever existed, you are considered unmarried even if you filed joint returns for earlier years. You must file amended returns (Form 1040X) claiming single or head of household status for all tax years affected by the annulment that are not closed by the statute of limitations for filing a tax return. The statute of limitations generally does not expire until 3 years after your original return was filed.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041745

Head of household or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.(p5)
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If you are considered unmarried, you may be able to file as a head of household or as a qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child. See Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child to see if you qualify.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041746

Married persons.(p5)


rule
spacer

If you are considered married for the whole year, you and your spouse can file a joint return, or you can file separate returns.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041747

Considered married.(p5)
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You are considered married for the whole year if on the last day of your tax year you and your spouse meet any one of the following tests.
  1. You are married and living together as husband and wife.
  2. You are living together in a common law marriage that is recognized in the state where you now live or in the state where the common law marriage began.
  3. You are married and living apart, but not legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance.
  4. You are separated under an interlocutory (not final) decree of divorce. For purposes of filing a joint return, you are not considered divorced.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041748

Spouse died during the year.(p5)
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If your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year for filing status purposes.
If you did not remarry before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse. For the next 2 years, you may be entitled to the special benefits described later under Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.
If you remarried before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return with your new spouse. Your deceased spouse's filing status is married filing separately for that year.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041749

Married persons living apart.(p5)
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If you live apart from your spouse and meet certain tests, you may be considered unmarried. If this applies to you, you can file as head of household even though you are not divorced or legally separated. If you qualify to file as head of household instead of as married filing separately, your standard deduction will be higher. Also, your tax may be lower, and you may be able to claim the earned income credit. See Head of Household, later.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041750

Single(p5)


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previous topic occurrence Filing Status, Single next topic occurrence

Your filing status is single if, on the last day of the year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree, and you do not qualify for another filing status. To determine your marital status on the last day of the year, see Marital Status, earlier.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041751

Widow(er).(p5)


rule
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Your filing status may be single if you were widowed before January 1, 2008, and did not remarry before the end of 2008. However, you might be able to use another filing status that will give you a lower tax. See Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child, later, to see if you qualify.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041752

How to file.(p5)


rule
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You can file Form 1040EZ (if you have no dependents, are under 65 and not blind, and meet other requirements), Form 1040A, or Form 1040. If you file Form 1040A or Form 1040, show your filing status as single by checking the box on line 1. Use the Single column of the Tax Table, or Section A of the Tax Computation Worksheet, to figure your tax.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041753

Married Filing Jointly(p6)


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previous topic occurrence Married Filing Jointly next topic occurrence

You can choose married filing jointly as your filing status if you are married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.
If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize deductions) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.
Deposit
If you and your spouse each have income, you may want to figure your tax both on a joint return and on separate returns (using the filing status of married filing separately). You can choose the method that gives the two of you the lower combined tax.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041755

How to file.(p6)


rule
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If you file as married filing jointly, you can use Form 1040 or Form 1040A. If you have no dependents, are under 65 and not blind, and meet other requirements, you can file Form 1040EZ. If you file Form 1040 or Form 1040A, show this filing status by checking the box on line 2. Use the Married filing jointly column of the Tax Table, or Section B of the Tax Computation Worksheet, to figure your tax.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041756

Spouse died during the year.(p6)


rule
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If your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year and can choose married filing jointly as your filing status. See Spouse died during the year, under Married persons, earlier.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041757

Divorced persons.(p6)


rule
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If you are divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and you cannot choose married filing jointly as your filing status.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041758

Filing a Joint Return(p6)


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previous topic occurrence Married Filing Jointly next topic occurrence

Both you and your spouse must include all of your income, exemptions, and deductions on your joint return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041759

Accounting period.(p6)


rule
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Both of you must use the same accounting period, but you can use different accounting methods.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041760

Joint responsibility.(p6)


rule
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Both of you may be held responsible, jointly and individually, for the tax and any interest or penalty due on your joint return. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041761

Divorced taxpayer.(p6)
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You may be held jointly and individually responsible for any tax, interest, and penalties due on a joint return filed before your divorce. This responsibility may apply even if your divorce decree states that your former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041762

Relief from joint responsibility.(p6)
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In some cases, one spouse may be relieved of joint liability for tax, interest, and penalties on a joint return for items of the other spouse which were incorrectly reported on the joint return. You can ask for relief no matter how small the liability.
There are three types of relief available.
  1. Innocent spouse relief.
  2. Separation of liability, which applies to joint filers who are divorced, widowed, legally separated, or who have not lived together for the 12 months ending on the date election of this relief is filed.
  3. Equitable relief.
You must file Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, to request any of these kinds of relief. Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief, explains these kinds of relief and who may qualify for them.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041763

Signing a joint return.(p6)


rule
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For a return to be considered a joint return, both husband and wife generally must sign the return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041764

Spouse died before signing.(p6)
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If your spouse died before signing the return, the executor or administrator must sign the return for your spouse. If neither you nor anyone else has yet been appointed as executor or administrator, you can sign the return for your spouse and enter "Filing as surviving spouse" in the area where you sign the return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041765

Spouse away from home.(p6)
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If your spouse is away from home, you should prepare the return, sign it, and send it to your spouse to sign so that it can be filed on time.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041766

Injury or disease prevents signing.(p6)
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If your spouse cannot sign because of injury or disease and tells you to sign, you can sign your spouse's name in the proper space on the return followed by the words "By (your name), Husband (or Wife)." Be sure to also sign in the space provided for your signature. Attach a dated statement, signed by you, to the return. The statement should include the form number of the return you are filing, the tax year, the reason your spouse cannot sign, and that your spouse has agreed to your signing for him or her.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041767

Signing as guardian of spouse.(p6)
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If you are the guardian of your spouse who is mentally incompetent, you can sign the return for your spouse as guardian.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041768

Spouse in combat zone.(p6)
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If your spouse is unable to sign the return because he or she is serving in a combat zone (such as the Persian Gulf area, Yugoslavia, or Afghanistan), or a qualified hazardous duty area (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, or Macedonia), and you do not have a power of attorney or other statement, you can sign for your spouse. Attach a signed statement to your return that explains that your spouse is serving in a combat zone. For more information on special tax rules for persons who are serving in a combat zone, or who are in missing status as a result of serving in a combat zone, see Publication 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041769

Other reasons spouse cannot sign.(p6)
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If your spouse cannot sign the joint return for any other reason, you can sign for your spouse only if you are given a valid power of attorney (a legal document giving you permission to act for your spouse). Attach the power of attorney (or a copy of it) to your tax return. You can use Form 2848.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041770

Nonresident alien or dual-status alien.(p6)


rule
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A joint return generally cannot be filed if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the tax year. However, if one spouse was a nonresident alien or dual-status alien who was married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of the year, the spouses can choose to file a joint return. If you do file a joint return, you and your spouse are both treated as U.S. residents for the entire tax year. See chapter 1 of Publication 519.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041771

Married Filing Separately(p6)


rule
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previous topic occurrence Married Filing Separately next topic occurrence

You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.
If you and your spouse do not agree to file a joint return, you have to use this filing status unless you qualify for head of household status, discussed next.
You may be able to choose head of household filing status if you live apart from your spouse, meet certain tests, and are considered unmarried (explained later, under Head of Household). This can apply to you even if you are not divorced or legally separated. If you qualify to file as head of household, instead of as married filing separately, your tax may be lower, you may be able to claim the earned income credit and certain other credits, and your standard deduction will be higher. The head of household filing status allows you to choose the standard deduction even if your spouse chooses to itemize deductions. See Head of Household, later, for more information.
Deposit
Unless you are required to file separately, you should figure your tax both ways (on a joint return and on separate returns). This way you can make sure you are using the filing status that results in the lowest combined tax. However, you will generally pay more combined tax on separate returns than you would on a joint return for the reasons listed under Special Rules, later.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041773

How to file.(p6)


rule
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If you file a separate return, you generally report only your own income, exemptions, credits, and deductions on your individual return. You can claim an exemption for your spouse if your spouse had no gross income and was not the dependent of another person. However, if your spouse had any gross income or was the dependent of someone else, you cannot claim an exemption for him or her on your separate return.
If you file as married filing separately, you can use Form 1040A or Form 1040. Select this filing status by checking the box on line 3 of either form. You also must enter your spouse's full name in the space provided and must enter your spouse's SSN or ITIN in the space provided unless your spouse does not have and is not required to have an SSN or ITIN. Use the Married filing separately column of the Tax Table or Section C of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041774

Special Rules(p6)


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previous topic occurrence Special Rules next topic occurrence

If you choose married filing separately as your filing status, the following special rules apply. Because of these special rules, you will usually pay more tax on a separate return than if you used another filing status that you qualify for.
  1. Your tax rate generally will be higher than it would be on a joint return.
  2. Your exemption amount for figuring the alternative minimum tax will be half that allowed to a joint return filer.
  3. You cannot take the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most cases, and the amount that you can exclude from income under an employer's dependent care assistance program is limited to $2,500 (instead of $5,000 if you filed a joint return).
  4. You cannot take the earned income credit.
  5. You cannot take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most cases.
  6. You cannot take the education credits (the Hope credit and the lifetime learning credit), the deduction for student loan interest, or the tuition and fees deduction.
  7. You cannot exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds that you used for higher education expenses.
  8. If you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year:
    1. You cannot claim the credit for the elderly or the disabled.
    2. You will have to include in income more (up to 85%) of any social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits you received, and
    3. You cannot roll over amounts from a traditional IRA into a Roth IRA.
  9. The following credits and deductions are reduced at income levels that are half of those for a joint return:
    1. The child tax credit,
    2. The retirement savings contributions credit,
    3. Itemized deductions, and
    4. The deduction for personal exemptions.
  10. Your capital loss deduction limit is $1,500 (instead of $3,000 if you filed a joint return).
  11. If your spouse itemizes deductions, you cannot claim the standard deduction. If you can claim the standard deduction, your basic standard deduction is half the amount allowed on a joint return.
  12. Your first-time homebuyer credit is limited to $3,750 (instead of $7,500 if you filed a joint return).
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041775

Individual retirement arrangements (IRAs).(p7)


rule
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You may not be able to deduct all or part of your contributions to a traditional IRA if you or your spouse was covered by an employee retirement plan at work during the year. Your deduction is reduced or eliminated if your income is more than a certain amount. This amount is much lower for married individuals who file separately and lived together at any time during the year. For more information, see How Much Can You Deduct? in chapter 1 of Publication 590, Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs).
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041776

Rental activity losses.(p7)


rule
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If you actively participated in a passive rental real estate activity that produced a loss, you generally can deduct the loss from your nonpassive income up to $25,000. This is called a special allowance. However, married persons filing separate returns who lived together at any time during the year cannot claim this special allowance. Married persons filing separate returns who lived apart at all times during the year are each allowed a $12,500 maximum special allowance for losses from passive real estate activities. See Rental Activities in Publication 925, Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041777

Community property states.(p7)


rule
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If you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin and file separately, your income may be considered separate income or community income for income tax purposes. See Publication 555, Community Property.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041778

Joint Return After 
Separate Returns(p7)


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previous topic occurrence Joint Return After Separate Returns next topic occurrence

You can change your filing status by filing an amended return using Form 1040X.
If you or your spouse (or both of you) file a separate return, you generally can change to a joint return any time within 3 years from the due date of the separate return or returns. This does not include any extensions. A separate return includes a return filed by you or your spouse claiming married filing separately, single, or head of household filing status.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041779

Separate Returns 
After Joint Return(p7)


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previous topic occurrence Separate Returns After Joint Return next topic occurrence

Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041780

Exception.(p7)


rule
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A personal representative for a decedent can change from a joint return elected by the surviving spouse to a separate return for the decedent. The personal representative has 1 year from the due date (including extensions) of the return to make the change. See Publication 559 for more information on filing income tax returns for a decedent.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041781

Head of Household(p7)


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previous topic occurrence Head of Household next topic occurrence

You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.
  1. You are unmarried or "considered unmarried" on the last day of the year.
  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
  3. A "qualifying person" lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the "qualifying person" is your dependent parent, he or she does not have to live with you. See Special rule for parent, later, under Qualifying Person.
Deposit
If you qualify to file as head of household, your tax rate usually will be lower than the rates for single or married filing separately. You will also receive a higher standard deduction than if you file as single or married filing separately.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041783

How to file.(p7)


rule
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If you file as head of household, you can use either Form 1040A or Form 1040. Indicate your choice of this filing status by checking the box on line 4 of either form. Use the Head of a household column of the Tax Table or Section D of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041784

Considered Unmarried(p7)


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previous topic occurrence Considered Unmarried next topic occurrence

To qualify for head of household status, you must be either unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. You are considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year if you meet all the following tests.
  1. You file a separate return (defined earlier under Joint Return After Separate Returns).
  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.
  3. Your spouse did not live in your home during the last 6 months of the tax year. Your spouse is considered to live in your home even if he or she is temporarily absent due to special circumstances. See Temporary absences, later.
  4. Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year. (See Home of qualifying person, later, for rules applying to a child's birth, death, or temporary absence during the year.)
  5. You must be able to claim an exemption for the child. However, you meet this test if you cannot claim the exemption only because the noncustodial parent can claim the child using the rules described later in Children of divorced or separated parents under Qualifying Child or in Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents under Qualifying Relative. The general rules for claiming an exemption for a dependent are explained later under Exemptions for Dependents.
EIC
If you were considered married for part of the year and lived in a community property state (listed earlier under Married Filing Separately), special rules may apply in determining your income and expenses. See Publication 555 for more information.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041786

Nonresident alien spouse.(p7)


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You are considered unmarried for head of household purposes if your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you do not choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident alien. However, your spouse is not a qualifying person for head of household purposes. You must have another qualifying person and meet the other tests to be eligible to file as a head of household.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041787

Earned income credit.(p8)
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Even if you are considered unmarried for head of household purposes because you are married to a nonresident alien, you are still considered married for purposes of the earned income credit (unless you meet the five tests listed earlier under Considered Unmarried ).You are not entitled to the credit unless you file a joint return with your spouse and meet other qualifications.
See Publication 596 for more information.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041788

Choice to treat spouse as resident.(p8)
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You are considered married if you choose to treat your spouse as a resident alien. See chapter 1 of Publication 519.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041789

Keeping Up a Home(p8)


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previous topic occurrence Costs of keeping up home next topic occurrence

To qualify for head of household status, you must pay more than half of the cost of keeping up a home for the year. You can determine whether you paid more than half of the cost of keeping up a home by using the following worksheet. taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#w15000u0101
Pencil

Cost of Keeping Up a Home

   
 Amount
You

Paid
Total
Cost
Property taxes$$
Mortgage interest expense                        
Rent                        
Utility charges                        
Upkeep and repairs                        
Property insurance                        
Food consumed
 on the premises
                        
Other household expenses                        
Totals$$
   
Minus total amount you paid  (        )
   
Amount others paid $
   
If the total amount you paid is more than the amount others paid, you meet the requirement of paying more than half the cost of keeping up the home.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041790

Costs you include.(p9)


rule
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Include in the cost of upkeep expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance on the home, repairs, utilities, and food eaten in the home.
If you used payments you received under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or other public assistance programs to pay part of the cost of keeping up your home, you cannot count them as money you paid. However, you must include them in the total cost of keeping up your home to figure if you paid over half the cost.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041791

Costs you do not include.(p9)


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Do not include in the cost of upkeep expenses such as clothing, education, medical treatment, vacations, life insurance, or transportation. Also, do not include the rental value of a home you own or the value of your services or those of a member of your household.
Also do not include any government or charitable assistance you received because of your temporary relocation due to the storms, tornadoes, or flooding in a Midwestern disaster area.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041792

Qualifying Person(p9)


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previous topic occurrence Qualifying Person next topic occurrence

See Table 4, earlier, to see who is a qualifying person.
Any person not described in Table 4 is not a qualifying person.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041793

Example 1—child.(p9)

Your unmarried son lived with you all year and was 18 years old at the end of the year. He did not provide more than half of his own support and does not meet the tests to be a qualifying child of anyone else. As a result, he is your qualifying child (see Qualifying Child, later) and, because he is single, is a qualifying person for you to claim head of household filing status.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041794

Example 2—child who is not qualifying person.(p9)

The facts are the same as in Example 1 except your son was 25 years old at the end of the year and his gross income was $5,000. Because he does not meet the age test (explained later under Qualifying Child), your son is not your qualifying child. Because he does not meet the gross income test (explained later under Qualifying Relative), he is not your qualifying relative. As a result, he is not your qualifying person for head of household purposes.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041795

Example 3—girlfriend.(p9)

Your girlfriend lived with you all year. Even though she may be your qualifying relative if the gross income and support tests (explained later) are met, she is not your qualifying person for head of household purposes because she is not related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you. See Table 4.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041796

Example 4—girlfriend's child.(p9)

The facts are the same as in Example 3 except your girlfriend's 10-year-old son also lived with you all year. He is not your qualifying child and, because he is your girlfriend's qualifying child, he is not your qualifying relative (see Not a Qualifying Child Test, later). As a result, he is not your qualifying person for head of household purposes.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041797

Home of qualifying person.(p9)


rule
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Generally, the qualifying person must live with you for more than half of the year.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041798

Special rule for parent.(p9)
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If your qualifying person is your father or mother, you may be eligible to file as head of household even if your father or mother does not live with you. However, you must be able to claim an exemption for your father or mother. Also, you must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for the entire year for your father or mother. You are keeping up a main home for your father or mother if you pay more than half the cost of keeping your parent in a rest home or home for the elderly.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041799

Death or birth.(p9)
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You may be eligible to file as head of household if the individual 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 individual's main home for more than half of the year, or, if less, the period during which the individual lived.
taxmap/pubs/p501-002.htm#en_us_publink100041800

Example.(p9)

You are unmarried. Your mother, for whom you can claim an exemption, lived in an apartment by herself. She died on September 2. The cost of the upkeep of her apartment for the year until her death was $6,000. You paid $4,000 and your brother paid $2,000. Your brother made no other payments towards your mother's support. Your mother had no income. Because you paid more than half of the cost of keeping up your mother's apartment from January 1 until her death, and you can claim an exemption for her, you can file as a head of household.
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Temporary absences.(p9)
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You and your qualifying person are considered to live together even if one or both of you are temporarily absent from your home due to special circumstances such as illness, education, business, vacation, or military service. It must be reasonable to assume that the absent person will return to the home after the temporary absence. You must continue to keep up the home during the absence.
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Kidnapped child.(p9)
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You may be eligible to file as head of household even if the child who is your qualifying person has been kidnapped. You can claim head of household filing status if all the following statements are true.
  1. The child must be presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or the child's family.
  2. In the year of the kidnapping, the child lived with you for more than half the part of the year before the kidnapping.
  3. You would have qualified for head of household filing status if the child had not been kidnapped.
This treatment applies for all years until the child is returned. However, the last year this treatment can apply is the earlier of:
  1. The year there is a determination that the child is dead, or
  2. The year the child would have reached age 18.
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Qualifying Widow(er) 
With Dependent Child(p9)


rule
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previous topic occurrence Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child next topic occurrence

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, earlier.
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. The rules for using this filing status are explained in detail here.
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.
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How to file.(p9)


rule
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If you file as a 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/pubs/p501-002.htm#f15000u00

Table 4. Who Is a Qualifying Person Qualifying You To File as Head of Household?1

Caution. See the text of this publication for the other requirements you must meet to claim head of household filing status.

IF the person is your . . . AND . . . THEN that person is . . .
qualifying child (such as a son, daughter, or grandchild who lived with you more than half the year and meets certain other tests)2 he or she is single a qualifying person, whether or not you can claim an exemption for the person.
 he or she is married and you can claim an exemption for him or her  a qualifying person.
 he or she is married and you cannot claim an exemption for him or her  not a qualifying person.3
qualifying relative4 who is your father or mother  you can claim an exemption for him or her5 a qualifying person.6
 you cannot claim an exemption for him or her not a qualifying person.
qualifying relative4 other than your father or mother (such as a grandparent, brother, or sister who meets certain tests).  he or she lived with you more than half the year, and he or she is related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you on page 15, and you can claim an exemption for him or her5 a qualifying person.
 he or she did not live with you more than half the year not a qualifying person.
 he or she is not related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who do not have to live with you on page 15 and is your qualifying relative only because he or she lived with you all year as a member of your household  not a qualifying person
 you cannot claim an exemption for him or her not a qualifying person.
1A person cannot qualify more than one taxpayer to use the head of household filing status for the year.
2The term "qualifying child" is defined under Exemptions for Dependents, later. Note: If you are a noncustodial parent, the term "qualifying child" for head of household filing status does not include a child who is your qualifying child for exemption purposes only because of the rules described under Children of divorced or separated parents under Qualifying Child, later. If you are the custodial parent and those rules apply, the child generally is your qualifying child for head of household filing status even though the child is not a qualifying child for whom you can claim an exemption.
3 This person is a qualifying person if the only reason you cannot claim the exemption is that you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's return.
4The term "qualifying relative" is defined under Exemptions for Dependents, later.
5If you can claim an exemption for a person only because of a multiple support agreement, that person is not a qualifying person. See Multiple Support Agreement.
6See Special rule for parent for an additional requirement.
 
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Eligibility rules.(p9)


rule
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You are eligible to file your 2008 return as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child if you meet all the following tests.
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Example.(p10)

John Reed's wife died in 2006. John has not remarried. He has continued during 2007 and 2008 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 a qualifying widower with a dependent child. After 2008, he can file as head of household if he qualifies.
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Death or birth.(p10)


rule
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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.
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Kidnapped child.(p10)


rule
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You may be eligible to file as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, even if the child who qualifies you for this filing status has been kidnapped. You can claim qualifying widow(er) with dependent child filing status if all the following statements are true.
  1. The child must be presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who is not a member of your family or the child's family.
  2. In the year of the kidnapping, the child lived with you for more than half the part of the year before the kidnapping.
  3. You would have qualified for qualifying widow(er) with dependent child filing status if the child had not been kidnapped.
EIC
As mentioned earlier, this filing status is available for only 2 years following the year your spouse died.
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