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Finding the Right Filing Status: A Guide to Navigating Your Federal Income Tax Return

Filing your federal income tax return can be a daunting task, with several options available to taxpayers regarding filing status. According to the IRS, there are five filing statuses available: married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, single, and qualifying widow(er). Each status has its advantages, and it can be challenging to determine which one is right for you.


For example, if a taxpayer has a dependent living with them and is single, they can file their taxes as a head of household. Married couples can file their taxes jointly, while both heads of households and married couples filing a joint return receive an increased standard deduction and their own tax brackets. Tax bracket amounts are higher with reduced tax rates for both filing statuses, although tax brackets for married couples are very similar to the single bracket, with the amounts doubled and tax rates remaining the same, as reported by Investopedia on January 2, 2023.


To file taxes as head of household, a taxpayer must meet certain requirements, including living separately from their spouse for more than half of the tax year with a qualifying dependent and covering over half of the expenses. It is not possible to file taxes as the head of household without a dependent.


It can be difficult to determine which filing status is best, as it can affect tax liability, eligibility for tax credits and deductions, and other financial matters. We recommend that taxpayers consult with a tax professional or use tax software to determine the best filing status for their situation.


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