Filing Guidelines for Federal Tax Purposes

This is a guideline only and your situation may present a different circumstance.
Please Note: If you received the advance Premium Tax Credit for your health insurance through a health insurance exchange (aka "Obamacare"), then you MUST file a return for 2017 regardless of your income. Failure to do so will result in non-eligibility for future Premium Tax Credits.

SINGLE (not a dependent of someone else)

DEFINITION

DEFINITION
Your filing status is single if you are considered unmarried and you do not qualify for another filing status. To determine your marital status:
• You are considered unmarried for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you are unmarried or legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree. State law governs whether you are married or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.
• For same sex couples, if you were married in a state that recognizes same sex marriages, then for the purpose of federal filing purposes, you are married and not eligible to file single.
• If you are divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year.

MARRIED FILING JOINTLY (neither a dependent of someone else)

DEFINITION

DEFINITION
You can choose married filing jointly as your filing status if you are considered married (as of the last day of the year) and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you and your spouse report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.
If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your combined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you do not itemize deductions) may be higher, and you may qualify for tax benefits that do not apply to other filing statuses.

MARRIED FILING SEPARATELY (not a dependent of someone else)

You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married (as of the last day of the year). 
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 do not agree to file a joint return, you must use this filing status unless you qualify for head of household status.
You generally must file a return if your income is $4,050 or more.

HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD (cannot a dependent of someone else)

DEFINITION

DEFINITION
To qualify for head of household status...
• You must be either unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. (See the definition for single above.)
• You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
• A qualifying person lived with you in the home for more than half the year.

QUALIFYING WIDOW(ER) (cannot a dependent of someone else)

DEFINITION

DEFINITION
To qualify for qualifying window(er)...
• You were entiltled to file a joint return with your spouse.
• Your spouse must have died in 2015 or 2016.
• You have a child who lived with you all year unless born, died, or kidnapped during the year.
• You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
NOTE: If your spouse died during 2017 you must either file a joint (MFJ) or separate (MFS) return.

OTHER SITUATIONS WHEN YOU MUST FILE A RETURN

You owe any special taxes, including any of the following.
a. Alternative minimum tax.
b. Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account. But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Form 5329 by itself.
c. Household employment taxes. But if you are filing a return only because you owe this tax, you can file Schedule H by itself.
d. Social Security and Medicare tax on tips you did not report to your employer or on wages you received from an employer who did not withhold these taxes.
e. Recapture of first-time homebuyer credit. See the instructions for line 60b.
f. Write-in taxes, including uncollected Social Security and Medicare or RRTA tax on tips you reported to your employer or on groupterm life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts. See the instructions for line 62.
g. Recapture taxes. See the instructions for lines 44, 60b, and line 62.
2. You (or your spouse, if filing jointly) received HSA, Archer MSA, or Medicare Advantage MSA distributions.
3. You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400.
4. You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer Social
and Medicare taxes.
5. Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You should have received Forms 1095-A showing the amount of the advance payments, if any.
6. Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent.

DEPENDENTS (someone else can claim you as a dependent)

DEFINITION

DEFINITION
If your parents (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, use this as a guide to see if you must file a return.
Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, and professional fees. It also includes taxable scholarship and fellowship grants
Unearned income includes investment-type income such as taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions. It also includes unemployment compensation, taxable social security benefits, pensions, annuities, cancellation of debt, and distributions of unearned income from a trust. Gross income is the total of your earned and unearned income.

© 2018 M. C. Taxes, LLC