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taxmap/instr/i1040a-011.htm#TXMP47bff751

Filing Status(p17)


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Check only the filing status that applies to you. The ones that will usually give you the lowest tax are listed last.
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More than one filing status can apply to you. Choose the one that will give you the lowest tax.
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Line 1(p17)


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Single(p17)


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You can check the box on line 1 if any of the following was true on December 31, 2009.
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Line 2(p17)


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Married Filing Jointly(p17)


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You can check the box on line 2 if any of the following apply.
For federal tax purposes, a marriage means only a legal union between a man and a woman as husband and wife. A husband and wife filing jointly report their combined income and deduct their combined allowable expenses on one return. They can file a joint return even if only one had income or if they did not live together all year. However, both persons must sign the return. Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-011.htm#TXMP48ee929f

Joint and several tax liability.(p18)

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If you file a joint return, both you and your spouse are generally responsible for the tax and any interest or penalties due on the return. This means that if one spouse does not pay the tax due, the other may have to. However, see Innocent spouse relief on page 80.
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Nonresident aliens and dual-status aliens.(p18)

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Generally, a husband and wife cannot file a joint return if either spouse is a nonresident alien at any time during the year. However, if you were a nonresident alien or a dual-status alien and were married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of 2009, you may elect to be treated as a resident alien and file a joint return. See Pub. 519 for details.
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Line 3(p18)


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Married Filing Separately(p18)


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If you are married and file a separate return, you will usually pay more tax than if you use another filing status for which you qualify. Also, if you file a separate return, you cannot take the student loan interest deduction, the tuition and fees deduction, the education credits, or the earned income credit. You also cannot take the standard deduction if your spouse itemizes deductions.
Generally, you report only your own income, exemptions, deductions, and credits. Different rules apply to people in community property states. See page 24.
Be sure to enter you spouse's SSN or ITIN on Form 1040A unless your spouse does not have and is not required to have an SSN or ITIN.
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You may be able to file as head of household if you had a child living with you and you lived apart from your spouse during the last 6 months of 2009. See Married persons who live apart on this page.
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Line 4(p18)


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Head of Household(p18)


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Special rules may apply for people who had to relocate because of Midwestern storms, tornadoes, or flooding. For details, see Pub. 4492-B.
This filing status is for unmarried individuals who provide a home for certain other persons. (Some married persons who live apart are considered unmarried. See Married persons who live apart on this page. If you are married to a nonresident alien, you may also be considered unmarried. See Nonresident alien spouse on this page.) You can check the box on line 4 only if you were unmarried or legally separated (according to your state law) under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance at the end of 2009 and either Test 1 or Test 2 next applies.
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Test 1.(p18)

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You paid over half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for all of 2009 of your parent whom you can claim as a dependent, except under a multiple support agreement (see page 22). Your parent did not have to live with you.
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Test 2.(p18)

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You paid over half the cost of keeping up a home in which you lived and in which one of the following also lived for more than half of the year (if half or less, see Exception to time lived with you on this page).
  1. Any person whom you can claim as a dependent. But do not include:
    1. Your qualifying child (as defined in Step 1 on page 20) whom you claim as your dependent based on the rule for Children of divorced or separated parents that begins on page 21,
    2. Any person who is your dependent only because he or she lived with you for all of 2009, or
    3. Any person you claimed as a dependent under a multiple support agreement. See page 22.
  2. Your unmarried qualifying child who is not your dependent.
  3. Your married qualifying child who is not your dependent only because you can be claimed as a dependent on someone else's 2009 return.
  4. Your child who is neither your dependent nor your qualifying child because of the rule for Children of divorced or separated parents that begins on page 21.
If the child is not your dependent, enter the child's name on line 4. If you do not enter the name, it will take us longer to process your return.
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Dependent.(p18)

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To find out if someone is your dependent, see the instructions for line 6c that begin on page 20.
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Exception to time lived with you.(p18)

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Temporary absences by you or the other person for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time lived in the home. Also see Kidnapped child on page 22, if applicable.
If the person for whom you kept up a home was born or died in 2009, you can still file as head of household as long as the home was that person's main home for the part of the year he or she was alive.
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Keeping up a home.(p18)

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To find out what is included in the cost of keeping up a home, see Pub. 501.
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.
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Married persons who live apart.(p18)

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Even if you were not divorced or legally separated at the end of 2009, you are considered unmarried if all of the following apply.
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Adopted child.(p18)
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An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
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Foster child.(p18)
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A foster child is any child placed with you by an authorized placement agency or by judgment, decree, or other order of any court of competent jurisdiction.
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Nonresident alien spouse.(p18)

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You are considered unmarried for head of household filing status if your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you do not choose to treat him or her as a resident alien. To claim head of household filing status, you must also meet Test 1 or Test 2 on this page.
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Line 5(p19)


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Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child(p19)


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Special rules may apply for people who had to relocate because of Midwestern storms, tornadoes, or flooding. For details, see Pub. 4492-B.
You can check the box on line 5 and use joint return tax rates for 2009 if all of the following apply.
If your spouse died in 2009, you cannot file as qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. Instead, see the instructions for line 2 that begin on page 17.
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Adopted child.(p19)

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An adopted child is always treated as your own child. An adopted child includes a child lawfully placed with you for legal adoption.
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Dependent.(p19)

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To find out if someone is your dependent, see the instructions for line 6c that begin on page 20.
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Exception to time lived with you.(p19)

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Temporary absences by you or the child for special circumstances, such as school, vacation, business, medical care, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility, count as time lived in the home. Also see Kidnapped child on page 22, if applicable.
A child is considered to have lived with you for all of 2009 if the child was born or died in 2009 and your home was the child's home for the entire time he or she was alive.
taxmap/instr/i1040a-011.htm#TXMP7ee0b17b

Keeping up a home.(p19)

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To find out what is included in the cost of keeping up a home, see Pub. 501.
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.