What Is the Qualifying Surviving Spouse Tax Status?

man sitting with hands together in grief

If your spouse passed away this year, then you probably have a lot on your mind and the last thing you want to think about is how that’s going to affect your tax status. Don’t worry--if you’re used to filing as married filing jointly, you most likely don’t have to change anything.

Then what’s the qualifying surviving spouse option? It applies to the two years after the death of a spouse. If you do not remarry during those two years, you may be entitled to this status, which could get you a lower tax bracket and a higher standard deduction similar to married filing jointly. However, there are a few more requirements to qualify.

Who Can File as a Qualifying Surviving Spouse?

In addition to remaining unmarried for those two subsequent years, you must have a child or stepchild who you can claim as your dependent, and that child must live with you all year. You must also pay for more than half the costs of keeping up the home in which you and your dependent live.

Can I Use the Same Tax Status in California?

Yes, you have to use the same status on your California state tax return that you used on your federal return. The same eligibility requirements apply to the status for your state taxes. In California, the qualifying surviving spouse status also applies to those who have filed as registered domestic partnership (RDP) filing jointly prior to the death of their partner.

We can help you with your taxes at this difficult time. Reach out to a tax preparer today to discuss what’s best for you now.