Hi, I'm Joshua, and I work for the IRS.
One of the first things to figure out with your taxes is which filing status to use.
What counts is your status as of December 31st, not any other time of the year.
There are five filing statuses.
Which one is yours?
If you're single, divorced or legally separated as of December 31st, you're probably single for tax purposes.
Next is Married Filing Jointly.
Most married couples file a joint return.
It's usually easier, but you have a choice.
If you want, you could choose to file as,
Married Filing Separately.
It's a little extra effort, but you might want to figure your taxes both ways and see which results in the least tax.
Then there's Head of Household.
Lots of single parents qualify as head of household.
If you're not married, but you pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home for a qualifying person, then this might be for you.
There are lots of special rules for this one, but you should check it out.
If you qualify, it will usually save you some money at tax time.
The last status is Qualifying Widow, or Widower, with Dependent Child.
If your spouse died within the last two tax years and you have a dependent child, you might be able to use this filing status.
It usually results in owing less tax than filing as single.
Like most things in taxes, special rules apply for all these filing statuses.
The best way to determine yours is to use the Interactive Tax Assistant.
Go to IRS.gov and type "Filing Status" in the search box – Then click on "What is my Filing Status?"
It will walk you through all the rules.