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.
Individual - Single Tax Filing Status
Single tax filing status is the basic filing status for unmarried people who are not qualified to file as Head of Household.
Individuals who were not married on the last day of the tax year and who do not qualify to use any other filing status, must file their tax return using the Single tax filing status.
For IRS tax purposes, your marital status for the entire year is determined by what your marital status is on the last day of the year.
Am I Considered Married or Not Married?
American tax filers who were unmarried, divorced, or legally separated according to state law on the last day of the year they are filing (December 31) are considered single "not married" or unmarried for the whole year. Tax filers who were married (and not legally separated) on December 31, are considered to have been married for the year.
An exception to this rule exists for widows and widowers: If your spouse died during the tax year, you are still allowed to file as Married Filing Jointly for that year. Then for the following two years, you qualify to file as a Qualifying Widow or Widower.
How to Determine if I should File as a Single Individual?
There are two questions that you should ask yourself that will help you determine whether you qualify to file as a Single tax filer or not:
- Were you married on the last day of the year you are filing your tax return for?
- Do you qualify to use any other tax filing status?
If your answer to the first question was "Yes" (you were married on December 31), then you are not allowed to file as Single unless you were legally separated.
Tax filers who were married and not legally separated
on December 31, are required to use one of the married filing
statuses (Married Filing Jointly or
Married Filing Separately).
If your answer to the second question was "Yes" (and you do qualify for another filing status), then you may file using the Single tax filing status. However, you could qualify to receive a bigger tax refund (or owe less taxes) if you use one of the other filing statuses you qualify for when preparing your tax return.
How To File Using The Single Tax Filing Status?
Choosing your filing status is the first step when you're ready to begin preparing your tax return. This helps decide the direction and form to use
When you prepare your return, you can claim the Single filing status on any of the 3 major tax return forms: 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040. You should choose the simplest tax form that will fit your tax filing situation. Choose Your Tax Form.
If are filing as Single and your return can be prepared on a Form 1040EZ, you can qualify for a Free Federal Tax Filing Edition from several popular vendors.
What Other Filing Status Can I Use?
If you're not married, and have a dependent child or a Qualifying Person, you may qualify to file as Head of Household or Qualifying Widow(er) which may offer you better tax rates and other tax advantages.
- Filing as Head of Household: If you're unmarried and paid more than half the cost for keeping up a home that you and a Qualifying Person lived in, then you may be allowed to file as Head of Household.
- Filing as Qualifying Widow or Widower: If your spouse died, you have not remarried, and you support a dependent child, you may qualify to file as a Qualifying Widow or Widower for two years following your spouse's death.
- Filing as Married Filing Single: If you were married on the last day of the year, then you are NOT allowed to file as Single. However, you are allowed to file as Married Filing Separately instead of filing jointly.