Tax Tip: Have the Correct Filing Status on Your Tax Return

I know it’s months away, but you should really think about getting your taxes done right. A mistake some people make is filing with the wrong status. Having the right filing status can have a huge impact on your taxes.

Why is Your Filing Status Important?

Your tax rate and standard deduction is determined by your filing status. When you fill out your 1040 (U.S. Individual Tax Return),  you must choose one filing status of out of the 5 the IRS recognizes. They are:

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

Your status on December 31 has a bearing for your filing status. For example, if you are married on December 31, you can file as married for your tax returns. Each has its own requirements, so double check to make sure you qualify.  In some cases, you may qualify for two different statuses. If that’s your circumstances, look for the status with a lower tax rate.

If your status is married filing jointly or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, you generally have the lowest tax rate.

When you file your taxes, you must have a social security number for yourself, your spouse (if you’re married), or any dependents you claim.

When are Taxes Due?

Taxes are due April 15th of each year unless it falls on the weekend, in which case it’s due the next business day. For your 2009 taxes, April 15th falls on a Thursday. If you file late (and don’t file an extension) you can get penalties and fees.

If you need to file an extension, check out the IRS resource for Form 4868 Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return.

IRS Publications to Check Out

  • 501 Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing information
  • 555 Community Property

Looking for More Tax Tips?

If you’re looking for more information on taxes, I also contribute over at TurboTax’s blog. Here are a few topics I’ve covered:

Besides my posts, TurboTax also has a lot more articles and resources to help you maximize your tax return.

Photo Credit: MrVJTod

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Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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