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Tax Filing Status

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Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child

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Choosing the right tax filing status that best suits you and your needs can be an important factor that may even save you some serious cash.

Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependant

The Qualifying Widow(er) tax filing status is a filing status that allows a surviving Widow (or Widower) to retain the tax benefits of the Married Filing Jointly status for two years after the year of your spouse's death.

A Qualifying Widow (or Widower) with a Dependent Child will get the same tax benefits that they would get if the spouse was still alive and they were using the Married Filing Jointly tax filing status.

The Qualifying Widow (or Widower) filing status entitles surviving spouses to use the Married Filing Jointly tax rates as well as the highest standard deduction amount (provided they do not itemize deductions).

Am I Eligible For Qualifying Widow or Widower?

For the two years after the year of your spouse's death, you can use the "Qualifying Widow(er) with a Dependent Child" filing status. To Qualify you must have a qualifying dependent child. You can use Qualifying Widow(er) filing status if all 5 of the following statements are true:

  1. For the tax year in which your spouse died, you filed (or could have filed) a joint tax return with your spouse.
  2. You did not remarry during the two years after the year of your spouse's death.
  3. You have a child or stepchild (not a foster child) whom you claim as a dependent.
  4. The child lived with you in your home all year, except for temporary absences. Several exceptions for birth, death, or kidnapping exist.
    • Special Case: Temporary Absences: You are still considered to have lived together with your dependant in your home if either one of you was away for a temporary absence. Qualifying temporary absences include living away from home for school, business, medical treatment, military service, or vacation, with an expectation to return home after the absence. You must keep up the home during the absence.
    • Special Case: Birth or Death of a Child: You can still file as Qualifying Widow (Widower) if your qualified child was born or died during the year, as long as you paid more than half of the cost for keeping up the home that you and the child lived in during the entire part of the year they were alive.
    • Special Case: Kidnapped Child: If your dependent child was kidnapped, you can still file as Qualifying Widow(er) so long as all 3 of the following statements are true:
    • To qualify -
      1. The child must be presumed by law enforcement to have been kidnapped by someone who is not yours or the child's family member.
      2. In the year that the kidnapping took place, the child lived with you for more than half of the portion of the year before they were kidnapped.
      3. You would have been able to file as Qualifying Widow(er) with a dependant child if the child had not been kidnapped.
  5. You paid more than half the total cost of keeping up the home in which you and the your dependant lived for the year. The total cost of keeping up a home includes rent, mortgage interest, home insurance, real estate taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance, food expenses, and other household expenses.

You Cannot File as Qualifying Widow or Widower If

  • You remarried during the year.
  • If you do not have a dependent child for whom you kept up a home.
  • After the two-year period has ended after your spouses death, you may no longer file as Qualifying Widow or Widower.

What Filing Status To Use Upon the Death of a Spouse?

As a surviving spouse, if your spouse died during the tax year, you can still use Married Filing Jointly as your filing status for that year (as long as you otherwise would have qualified if they hadn't died).

For two years after that, you may be eligible for the Qualifying Widow (or Widower) with Dependent Child filing status.

How To File as Qualifying Widow (Widower) with a Dependent Child?

You can claim the Qualifying Widow (Widower) filing status when you prepare your tax return on Form 1040 or 1040A.

Qualifying Widow (or Qualifying Widower) is a filing status that allows surviving spouses the opportunity to retain the benefits of the Married Filing Jointly status for two years after the year of the deceased spouse's death. You must have a eligible dependent child in order to file as a Qualifying Widow or Widower.

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