Single IRS Tax Return Filing Status

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Single is the basic filing status for unmarried people who do not qualify to file as head of household. If you were not married on the last day of the tax year and you do not qualify to use any other filing status, then you must file your tax return as single. See the tax rates for single filers.

Tax Tip: If you are a single parent or you take care of a dependent or relative you should explore if you qualify for the filing status by using the head of household or HOHucator tax tool; it could reduce your taxes.

To claim the single filing status on Form 1040, start your return on and answer a few simple questions about yourself. You can select your filing status and eFile will report it by checking the box at the top of the Form 1040 and claim the standard deduction for singles automatically.

If you have any personal tax questions, use one of the 15 free tax calculator tools that allow you to get answers through a few clicks. If you which to see your tax return results based on a different filing status, use the free Tax Calculator or TAXstimator for the current tax year. Use these tax calculators for previous or back taxes.

Learn about the five tax filing statuses by using the navigation bar at the top of this page. How do you choose the right filing status? Use this free and simple filing status tool and get an answer in minutes.

How to Claim Single Filing Status

To see if you qualify as a single filer, you must ask yourself two questions:

  1. Was I married on the last day of the year?
  2. Do I qualify for any other filing status?

1. If you answered "Yes" to the first question (you were married on December 31), then you cannot file as single unless you were legally separated. If you were married and not legally separated on December 31, you will need to use one of the married filing statuses (married filing jointly or married filing separately).

2. If you answered "Yes" to the second question (you do qualify for another filing status), then you can file as single, but you may get a bigger tax refund or owe less taxes if you use another filing status on your tax return, like head of household.

Do you need to file a tax return? Generally, if you made under the single standard deduction for the current tax year, then you may not need to file. However, if you had income withheld from your pay, you will want to file to get this refunded and you may also qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit which can be refunded to you. You also will need to file if you made at least $400 from self-employment.

See more details on your filing status, dependents, and deductions.

Married or Not Married?

For tax purposes, your marital status for the entire year is determined by your marital status on the last day of the year. If you were unmarried, divorced, or legally separated according to state law on December 31, then you are considered "not married" or unmarried for the whole year. If you were married (and not legally separated) on December 31, then you are considered married for the whole year. There is an exception for widows or widowers: If your spouse died during the year, you may still file as married filing jointly for that year. For the next two years, you may qualify to file as a qualifying widow or widower if you have a dependent.

If you are not married and you have a dependent child or a qualifying person, you may be able to file your tax return using a more advantageous filing status than single. You can get better tax rates and other tax advantages if you qualify to file as head of household or qualifying widow(er).

Head of household: If you are unmarried and you paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for a qualifying person, then you may be able to file as head of household.

Qualifying widow or widower: If your spouse died, you have not remarried, and you support a dependent child, you may be able to file as qualifying widow or widower for the two years following your spouse's death.

If you were married on the last day of the year, then you cannot file as single. However, you can file as Married Filing Separately instead of filing a joint return with your spouse.

You can claim the single filing status when you file your 1040 tax return. It is easy to file as single on; choosing your filing status is one of the first things you do when you start preparing your tax return online.