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Published: February 21, 2020   |   Last Updated: November 23, 2020

Choosing the correct filing status for your tax return

Sometimes we see confusion about which filing status people should choose when filing their tax return. Did you know IRS.gov has an online application to help you decide? They do, it’s called What Is My Filing Status?


What You’ll Need to Determine Your Filing Status

To use the What Is My Filing Status? tool, you will need to know:

• Marital status and spouse’s year of death (if applicable).

• The percentage of the costs that your household members paid toward keeping up a home.

The tool is designed for taxpayers who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens for the entire tax year for which they’re inquiring. If married, the spouse must also have been a U.S. citizen or resident alien for the entire tax year. For information regarding nonresidents or dual-status aliens, please see International Taxpayers.

Another resource to determine your status is the Form 1040 Instruction booklet.

Be Aware of Scams

It’s tempting, but don’t fall victim to scams that promise inflated refunds, based on incorrect filing statuses or anything else. Read this warning from the IRS.

Check here for the latest scam information and to learn how to report suspected activity, as well as abusive tax return preparers, especially if something seems to be too good to be true.

Filing Help

There are lots of options for help with filing tax returns. See our TAS Tax Tip on filing options.

Qualified taxpayers can get free help preparing and filing their tax returns through IRS Free File online or free tax help from trained volunteers at community sites around the country.

IRS Resources

• Filing Information
• Here are facts to help taxpayers understand the different filing statuses
• Tax Trails – Filing Status of a U.S. Citizen or Resident Alien Married to a Nonresident Alien
• U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad – Head of Household
• Qualifying Child of More Than One Person