Each year, you should choose the filing status that accurately matches your circumstances. Your filing status may change after a major life event like getting married or moving away from home.

Answer a few questions to find your right filing status.

How filing status affects your tax

Filing status can affect:

  • Whether you must file a return
  • How much tax you owe
  • Credits you can claim
  • The type of form you should file
  • Your standard deduction amount
  • Whether you get a refund

Five filing statuses

Generally, your filing status is based on your marital status on the last day of the year. You can choose:
Single if you’re unmarried, divorced or legally separated.
Married filing jointly if you’re married or if your spouse passed away during the year.
Married filing separately if you’re married and don’t want to file jointly or find that filing separately lowers your tax. Most couples save money by filing jointly.
Head of household if you’re single and you paid more than half of your living expenses for yourself and a qualifying dependent.
Qualifying surviving spouse if your spouse died during the past 2 years and you have a dependent child.
Find details on filing statuses and how to choose them 


How to file your taxes: step by step
Managing your taxes after a life event
Filing taxes after divorce or separation
Publication 501, Dependents, Standard Deduction, and Filling Information