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F ILING S TATUS. G ENERAL CONSIDERATIONS Filing status is based on the marital/family status of the taxpayer. It impacts the calculation of income tax,

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Presentation on theme: "F ILING S TATUS. G ENERAL CONSIDERATIONS Filing status is based on the marital/family status of the taxpayer. It impacts the calculation of income tax,"— Presentation transcript:


2 G ENERAL CONSIDERATIONS Filing status is based on the marital/family status of the taxpayer. It impacts the calculation of income tax, the amount of the standard deduction, and certain credits and deductions. Taxpayers must use only ONE filing status. If they qualify for more than one status, they should choose the one that is most advantageous. The preparer, not the taxpayer, determines the status(es) for which the taxpayer qualifies.

3 F IVE F ILING S TATUSES FROM MOST TO LEAST BENEFICIAL ( BY STANDARD DEDUCTIONS, ETC ) Married Filing Jointly $11,400 Qualifying Widow(er) w/Dependent Child $11,400 Head of Household $ 8,400 Single $ 5,700 Married Filing Separately $ 5,700 (The dollar figures listed above are for taxpayers under 65 years of age.)

4 T O DETERMINE THE APPROPRIATE FILING STATUS, C HECK M ARITAL S TATUS AS OF 12-31-11 Persons are married for tax purposes for the entire year if: They were married on the last day of the tax year, or The spouse died during the year and the surviving spouse has not remarried. A person is single for tax purposes if, on the last day of the tax year, he or she was: Never married Legally separated or divorced Widowed before the first day of the tax year and not remarried during the year

5 MARRIED FILING JOINTLY This is the normal status for spouses living together, even if one did not have income or deductions. Taxpayers who file a joint return combine their income and deductions on the same return. Both husband and wife: Must sign the return, and Are responsible for any tax owed on the return. The Married Filing Jointly status generally provides a lower combined tax than any other filing status. A taxpayer whose spouse died during the tax year and has not remarried may usually file a joint return.

6 M ARRIED F ILING S EPARATELY The Married Filing Separately status is for taxpayers who qualify as married and either: Choose to file separate returns, or Cannot agree to file a joint return. The spouses each report their own incomes and deductions on separate returns, even if one spouse had no income. Spouses living together may choose to file separately, but usually file jointly. Most people who file separately are no longer living together but have not finalized a divorce.

7 D ISADVANTAGES OF THE M ARRIED F ILING S EPARATELY STATUS The tax rate is generally higher than on a joint return. Taxpayers cannot take credits for child and dependent care expenses, earned income, and/or certain adoption and education expenses. Some credits and deductions are reduced at income levels that are half those for a joint return such as the child tax credit, retirement savings contribution credit, itemized deductions, and the deduction for personal exemptions.

8 M ARRIED FILING SEPARATELY – S POUSES LIVING TOGETHER If taxpayers living together want to file separately, find out why. There are valid reasons: One common reason is to avoid an offset of their refund against one spouse's prior debt. past-due child support, past-due student loans, or a tax liability of a spouse incurred before the marriage Or, in certain cases, filing separately may result in a lower total tax. If one spouse has high medical or certain other expenses, separate returns may result in lower taxes because a lower adjusted gross income allows more expenses or losses to be deducted.

9 M ARRIED FILING SEPARATELY – POSSIBLE PROBLEMS, ESPECIALLY FOR SPOUSES LIVING APART A married taxpayer who files separately must show the spouse's name and social security number or ITIN on the return. If a married couple files separately and one spouse itemizes deductions, the other spouse must either: Also itemize deductions, or Claim "0" (zero) as the standard deduction. In other words, a taxpayer whose spouse itemizes deductions cannot take the standard deduction.

10 Q UALIFYING W IDOW ( ER ) WITH D EPENDENT C HILD A taxpayer may use this status during the first two years after the death of a spouse, if taxpayer: Has not remarried before the end of the tax year, Was eligible to file a joint return for the year the spouse died; it does not matter if a joint return was actually filed, Has a child, stepchild, or adopted child who qualifies as the taxpayer's qualifying child for the year (foster child does not count), or Furnished over half the cost of keeping up the child's home for the entire year. Social Security benefits received on behalf of the child are considered to be amounts furnished by the child, not by the parent.

11 F ILING S TATUS TO U SE FOR WIDOW ( ER ) Tax YearFiling StatusExemption for deceased spouse Year of deathMarried Filing Jointly Yes First year after deathQualifying Widow(er)No Second year after death Qualifying Widow(er)No After second yearHead of householdNo The following chart shows which filing status to use for a widowed taxpayer who does not remarry and has a qualifying dependent.

12 H EAD OF H OUSEHOLD : A TAXPAYER SUPPORTING A “ QUALIFYING PERSON ” The taxpayer either: o Was unmarried on the last day of the year, or o Met the tests for married persons living apart with dependent children. Note that rules are different for these two situations. o Paid more than half the cost of keeping up the main home. Valid household expenses include rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, home insurance, repairs, utilities, domestic help, food eaten in the home. Welfare payments are not considered amounts that the taxpayer provides to keep up a home. o Had a qualifying person living in their home with them more than half the year (except for temporary absences). Temporary absences include those for school, vacation, illness, business, or military service.

13 H EAD OF H OUSEHOLD – UNMARRIED TAXPAYER : W HO IS A “Q UALIFYING P ERSON ”? The qualifying person must be related to the taxpayer. A qualifying person is defined as: A qualifying child. A married child who can be claimed as a dependent. A dependent parent (does not have to live with taxpayer.) A dependent “qualifying relative” who lived with the taxpayer more than half the year and is one of the relatives listed in the Volunteer Resource Guide (Tab C), Table 2: Dependency Exemption for Qualifying Relative under Step 2. Taxpayers cannot claim the Head of Household status if the only dependent they can claim is under a multiple support agreement.

14 H EAD OF HOUSEHOLD – M ARRIED TAXPAYER “ CONSIDERED AS UNMARRIED ” Married taxpayers who live apart from their spouses and provide for dependent children may be considered “unmarried” for tax purposes and may file as Head of Household if: The taxpayer chooses to not file a joint return with his or her spouse, The taxpayer's spouse did not live in the home during the last six months of the year (temporary absences do not count), The taxpayer's home was the main home of the taxpayer's qualifying child, stepchild, or eligible foster child for more than half the year, The taxpayer paid more than half the cost of keeping up the qualifying child's home for the year.

15 Q UALIFYING PERSON FOR TAXPAYER “ CONSIDERED AS UNMARRIED ” o The rules for married taxpayers considered as unmarried are stricter than those for unmarried taxpayers. o Only the taxpayer’s qualifying child, stepchild or eligible foster child can count as a qualifying person. o The taxpayer must be able to claim the child as a dependent. o The taxpayer's home must have been the main home of child for more than half the year.

16 S INGLE o This status is used by taxpayers who Were not married on the last day of the tax year, and Were not supporting a qualifying person.

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