Single Filing Status
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.
To see if you qualify as a Single filer, you must ask yourself 2 questions:
- Was I married on the last day of the year?
- 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.
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 and 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.
Other Filing Statuses for Single Taxpayers
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.
File as Single When Married?
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.
How to File as Single
You can claim the Single filing status when you prepare your 1040 tax return. It is easy to file as Single on efile.com. Choosing your filing status is one of the first things you do when you start preparing your tax return online.