The first thing you'll need to determine before filing is which filing status you want to select. There are five filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualified surviving spouse.
Your filing status is single if you are considered unmarried and you don't qualify for another filing status.
Married Filing Jointly
You can choose married filing jointly as your filing status if you are considered married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return.
If your spouse passed away in 2022, you can use married filing jointly as your filing status for 2022 if you qualify to use that status. The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse.
Married Filing Separately
You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be responsible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return. If you and your spouse don't agree to file a joint return, you must use this filing status unless you qualify for head of household status.
Note: Both parties must itemize if you choose this option.
Head of Household
You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.
Marital Status: You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
Expenses: You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
Qualifying Individual: A qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the qualifying person is your dependent parent, your dependent parent doesn't have to live with you.
Qualifying Surviving Spouse (Qualifying Widower)
You may be eligible to use qualifying surviving spouse as your filing status for 2 years following the year your spouse died. For example, if your spouse died in 2022 and you haven't remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2023 and 2024.
Note: If you're still unsure what filing status to select, you can check out the IRS tool What is My Filing Status? for more information.
This content is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as tax, legal, financial, or other professional advice. Rules and regulations vary by location and are subject to change, so please consult with an expert if you need specific advice.