Your filing status determines which tax tables or schedules you have to use. Each filing status has different tax rates. Tax rates are lowest for Married Filing Joint status and highest for Married Filing Separate. If you are single and can qualify for the Head of the Household you pay lower taxes.
Single__ if you were unmarried at the end of 1984. If you were married but lived apart from your spouse the whole year. If your spouse died during 1984 you may consider yourself married to that spouse for tax purposes unless you remarried before the end of 1984.
Married__ Joint Returns Most married people pay lower taxes if they file joint returns. You and your spouse can file joint return even if you lived apart the whole year. You have to report all income, exemptions, deductions, and credits. Both of you have to sign the return and both of you are responsible for any tax due on a joint return. If your spouse died in 1984 or in 1985 before filing 1984 return you can file a joint return.
Separate Returns__ You file separate returns you have to itemize if your spouse itemizes. Each of you reports your own in-come, exemptions, deductions and credits. Each one of you is responsible for your own income but separate rules apply in community property states.
Tax rates are higher for Married Filing Separate Status and the following apply.
- You cannot take schedule W_ deductions. (Married couples when both work).
- In most cases you cannot take child and dependent care expenses.
- You cannot take Earned Income Credit
- You may have to pay taxes on all of your unemployment benefits you received in 1984.
- The credit for the elderly and permanently and totally disabled cannot be taken.
- You may have to pay taxes on one-half of your Social Security Benefits you received in 1984.
- You must itemize if your spouse itemizes.
Head of the Household Tax rates for Head of the Household status are lower than for the single. You may use this status if you were unmarried at the end of 1984 and meet test A or B below:
- You paid more than half the expenses of keeping up a house which was the principal house of your mother or father who can be claimed as your dependents. They do not have to live with you.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a house in which you lived all the year with your:
- Unmarried child, grandchild, adopted child or step child. (This child does not have to be your dependent).
- Your married child, grandchild, adopted child or step child. (This child must be your dependent).
- Parents, step parents, in-laws and if related by blood uncle, aunt, nephew and niece.
Qualifying Widow or Widower with a Dependent If your spouse died in 1982 or 1983 and you did not remarry in 1984 you may be able to use joint return tax rates for 1984 if you meet the following tests:
- You could have filed a joint return with your spouse in the year your spouse died.
- Your dependent child lived with you.
- You paid more than half the cost to keep up the house for this child the whole year.
Expenses of keeping up a house Include costs of rent, mortgage interest, taxes, and insurance on the house, repairs, utilities, domestic help and food eaten within the house.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 25, 1985