DEFINITION of 'Filing Status'

Filing status is a category that defines the type of tax return form a taxpayer must use when filing his or her taxes. Filing status is closely tied to marital status.

BREAKING DOWN 'Filing Status'

The filing status is important because a person's tax bracket (and, therefore, the amount he or she must pay) is determined by marital status, number of children, occupation, and several other factors. You must file your status honestly, or it will be considered fraudulent and penalties will be assessed.

For federal income tax purposes, a taxpayer falls into one of five categories: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent children.

Single filer

A single filer is a taxpayer that is unmarried, divorced, a registered domestic partner, or legally separated according to state law as of the last day of the tax year. The head of a household or a person who is widowed does not fall under the “single” category for tax purposes. Single filers have lower income limits for most exemptions.

Federal Income Tax Rate

Income Range for Single Taxpayer

10%

$0 - $9,525

12%

$9,526 - $38,700

22%

$38,701 - $82,500

24%

$82,501 - $157,500

32%

$157,501 - $200,000

35%

$200,001 - $500,000

37%

over $500,000

Standard Deduction

$12,000

Married person filing jointly or surviving spouse

An individual that is married by the end of the tax year can file his or her tax returns jointly with his or her spouse. When filing under married filing jointly status, couples can record their respective incomes, exemptions, and deductions on the same tax return. A joint tax return will often provide a bigger tax refund or a lower tax liability.

Federal Income Tax Rate

Income Range for Taxpayer who is Married Filing Jointly

10%

$0 - $19,050

12%

$19,051 - $77,400

22%

$77,401 - $165,000

24%

$165,001 - $315,000

32%

$315,001 - $400,000

35%

$400,001 - $600,000

37%

over $600,000

Standard Deduction

$24,000

Married filing jointly is best if only one spouse has a significant income. If both spouses work and the income and itemized deductions are large and very unequal, it may be more advantageous to file separately.

Married person filing separately

Married filing separately is a tax filing status used by married taxpayers who choose to record their respective incomes, exemptions, and deductions on separate tax returns. Married filing separately may be appealing to couples who find that combining their incomes pushes them into a higher tax bracket than either of them would be in if they filed separately. There is a potential tax advantage to filing separately when one spouse has significant medical expenses or miscellaneous itemized deductions.

The standard deduction and tax bracket for married taxpayers filing separately, as of 2018, is the same as that for a single taxpayer, except for the 35% and 37% brackets which have taxable income ranges of $200,001 to $300,000, and any amount greater than $300,000, respectively.

Federal Income Tax Rate

Income Range for Single Taxpayer

10%

$0 - $9,525

12%

$9,526 - $38,700

22%

$38,701 - $82,500

24%

$82,501 - $157,500

32%

$157,501 - $200,000

35%

$200,001 - $300,000

37%

over $300,000

Standard Deduction

$12,000

Head of household

A head of household is a single or unmarried taxpayer who pays at least 50% of the costs of supporting his or her household and lives with other qualifying family members for whom s/he provides support for more than half of the year. This means that the taxpayer must have paid more than half of the total household bills, including rent or mortgage, utility bills, insurance, property taxes, groceries, repairs and other common household expenses. Some examples of qualifying family members include a dependent child, grandchild, brother, sister, grandparent or anyone else you can claim as an exemption.

Head of households benefit from a lower tax rate.

Federal Income Tax Rate

Income Range for Taxpayer filing as the Head of Household

10%

$0 - $13,600

12%

$13,601 - $51,800

22%

$51,801 - $82,500

24%

$82,501 - $157,500

32%

$157,501 - $200,000

35%

$200,001 - $500,000

37%

over $500,000

Standard Deduction

$18,000

Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child

During the year in which a spouse dies, the surviving spouse can typically use the joint filing status. For the two tax years following the year of a spouse's death, the surviving spouse can file as a qualifying widow or widower. While the surviving spouse cannot continue to claim an exemption for the deceased spouse, s/he may claim the standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly.

The tax bracket and income range for widow(ers) is the same as that for married filing jointly.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Taxpayer

    A taxpayer is an individual or business entity that is obligated ...
  2. Married Filing Separately

    Married filing separately is a taxg status for married couples ...
  3. IRS Publication 501

    A document published by the Internal Revenue Service that covers ...
  4. Qualifying Widow/Widower

    A qualifying Widow/Widower is a 2-year federal tax filing status ...
  5. Qualified Widow Or Widower

    A qualified widow or widower is a tax filing status that allows ...
  6. Individual Tax Return

    An individual tax return is a tax form filed with a tax agency ...
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    Tax Time is Coming; Don't Be Caught Off Guard

    It's time to think about tax returns again. The good news is that the regulations in 2016 have not changed dramatically from last year.
  2. Taxes

    Top Reasons to File Separately When Married

    Usually couples file their taxes jointly, not separately. Except for these possible exceptions...
  3. Financial Advisor

    2016 Tax Code Changes Add Some Wiggle Room

    It's never too early to prepare for tax season. Next year features a host of tax law changes. Check our handy list to see which ones apply to you.
  4. Taxes

    How the GOP Tax Bill Affects You

    Here's how the new tax bill changes the taxes you file in 2018.
  5. Taxes

    Newly Divorced? How To File Your Taxes

    Divorce is a rough transition. Make the tax changes as easy as possible with these tips.
  6. Personal Finance

    The 10 Most Common Tax-Filing Mistakes

    Be sure to double check your federal income tax return for these common mistakes that could cost you time and money.
  7. Personal Finance

    Are the Financial Benefits of Marriage Still Appealing for All?

    Because many men and women are earning higher incomes, the financial benefits of marriage may not be as great as they were in the past.
  8. Taxes

    Calculating the Mortgage Interest Tax Deduction

    The amount of money you save by paying your mortgage off quickly will far exceed any benefit from the mortgage interest tax deduction.
  9. Taxes

    9 Ways the New Tax Law Affects Millennials

    The new tax bill, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, includes some important changes for Millennials.
  10. Taxes

    Tax Issues For Same-Sex Spouses

    The tax rules for same-sex spouses are largely the same as for traditional filers, but there are a few special considerations that apply.
Hot Definitions
  1. Current Assets

    Current assets is a balance sheet account that represents the value of all assets that can reasonably expected to be converted ...
  2. Volatility

    Volatility measures how much the price of a security, derivative, or index fluctuates.
  3. Money Market

    The money market is a segment of the financial market in which financial instruments with high liquidity and very short maturities ...
  4. Cost of Debt

    Cost of debt is the effective rate that a company pays on its current debt as part of its capital structure.
  5. Depreciation

    Depreciation is an accounting method of allocating the cost of a tangible asset over its useful life and is used to account ...
  6. Ratio Analysis

    A ratio analysis is a quantitative analysis of information contained in a company’s financial statements.
Trading Center