Am I Single for Tax Purposes?

woman in field at sunset

You’ve got no dependents, you have your whole house to yourself, and the world is your oyster. You’re single and you’re enjoying your freedom, but does that mean you qualify as single for tax purposes?

If you are unmarried or legally separated or divorced on the last day of the year, then, yes, you can most likely file as single on your income tax return. That being said, there are a couple of other filing statuses that may apply to you.

Other Filing Options If You’re Unmarried

Not all single people file their taxes as single. If you’re unmarried but you have one or more dependents living with you and you cover more than half the costs of keeping up your home, then you have a couple of other options: head of household or qualifying surviving spouse. These statuses could put you in lower tax brackets and get you higher standard deductions, which can lower your tax liability and get you a higher refund.

The difference between head of household and qualifying surviving spouse has to do with why you are currently single. If your spouse passed away in the previous year and you were able to file jointly, then you can file as qualifying surviving spouse for the two subsequent years. If your spouse passed away in the current year, then you may be able to still file as married filing jointly.

Single Status on California Tax Return

If you file as single on your federal tax return, then you should do the same on your California state return. Are there exceptions? Of course! If you are in a registered domestic partnership (RDP) in California, you will have to file as RDP filing jointly, RDP filing separately, or head of household even though you may have filed single for your federal taxes. Registered domestic partnerships do not have a filing status on the federal return.

Does it sound more complicated than you thought? That’s why we’re here. Contact a tax preparer today to discuss your tax filing options.