Filing taxes can be a daunting task. In the United States, there are currently five filing options. These options include:
- Married filing jointly;
- Married filing separately;
- Head of household; and
- Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.
Determining which filing status to use depends on many different factors. First, your marital status on the last day of December dictates your marital status for tax purposes for the entire year. If your divorce was finalized on or before December 31, then you cannot file jointly.
Consequently, if your divorce is not final, you may choose to file:
- Married filing jointly
- Married filing separately
- Single under certain circumstances
According to U.S. Code § 7703 (a) (2), if you are legally separated from your spouse “under a decree of divorce or of separate maintenance” you are not considered married and may file as single. However, do not presume you are “legally separated” because you are living apart and a divorce is in the works.