Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your status for the entire
year. There are five filing statuses to choose from.
If you are unmarried, divorced, or legally separated from your spouse under a separate
maintenance decree and you do not qualify for another filing status, your filing status is
Generally, to qualify for head of household status, you must be unmarried and have
provided more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for yourself
and a qualifying relative for more than one half of the year. You may also qualify if you
are married, but have not lived with your spouse at any time during the last six months of
the tax year and you have provided more than half the cost of keeping up a home for you
and your dependent child for more than one half of the year.
If you are married, you and your spouse may file a joint return or separate returns.
If your spouse died in 1996, you may still file a joint return. This is the last year
for which you may file a joint return with that spouse.
If your spouse died during 1994 or 1995, you may be able to file as a qualifying widow
or widower. To do this, you must meet all of the following four tests:
1.You were entitled to file a joint return with your spouse in the year he or she died.
It does not matter whether you actually filed a joint return;
2.You did not remarry before the end of 1996;
3.You have a child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child who qualified as your
dependent for the year; and
4.You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home, which was the main home of
that child, for the whole year.
If you are separated and live in a community property state, refer to Publication 555,
Community Property. More detailed information on each filing status can be found in
Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.
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