Internal Revenue Service United States Department of the Treasury
Level Basic Advanced Military International

Filing Status

Summary and Exercises


Take a moment to review what you have covered in this lesson:

The five filing statuses are (from lowest to highest tax):

  • Married Filing Jointly
  • Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child
  • Head of Household
  • Single
  • Married Filing Separately

If taxpayers qualify for more than one filing status, choose the one that gives a lower tax.

In most cases, a married couple pays a lower total tax amount if they file a joint return. If they choose to file separately, they must show their spouse's name and social security number on the return.

In general, the Head of Household status is for unmarried taxpayers who paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for a qualified person during the tax year. However, some married taxpayers who lived apart from their spouse and provided for dependent children may be "considered unmarried" and qualify to file as Head of Household.

A widow or widower with one or more dependent children may be able to use the Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child filing status, which is only available for two years following the year of the spouse's death.