The IRS gives you a choice of five different filing statuses:
2. Married Filing Jointly
3. Married Filing Separately
4. Head of Household
5. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child
You must meet certain criteria to select a specific filing status.
The least understood of the five filing options is very likely Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child.
The benefit of qualifying for this filing status is that you get to use the joint tax return rates instead of the single tax return rates. This can result in a substantial income tax savings.
To qualify for this status, five different types of criteria must be met:
- Your spouse died sometime in 2013 or 2014, and you did not remarry before the end of 2015.
- You have a child or stepchild you can claim as a dependent on your return.
- The child has lived with you the entire year in 2015 or meets one of the exceptions.
- You paid over half of the costs of maintaining a household.
- You could have filed a joint return with your spouse the year that he or she died, even if you did not actually do so.
If you meet the criteria to file using this particular status, you have the right to file your return using the Married Filing Jointly status for the year in which your spouse died.
The two tax years following the date of death you would file as Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. This allows you to calculate your taxes using the favorable joint tax rates instead of using the single tax rates.
You must remain unmarried at the end of each tax year to qualify for this status.