The term Qualifying Widow(er) refers to a tax status that allows someone whose spouse has passed to keep the tax benefits of the Married Filing Jointly tax status.
This particular tax status comes with its own unique definitions, requirements, and benefits to consider.
If you are someone whose spouse has passed, learn more about this filing status, whether you qualify, and what benefits it might have for you.
What's the Difference between a Widow and Widower?
This term refers to a person whose spouse has passed away. The word "widow" is used to describe women who have a deceased spouse. Add an extra "er" to the end of this word to describe men who have a deceased spouse.
What is a Qualifying Widow(er)?
This term is a tax filing status, in the same way that the terms head of household, married filing jointly, married filing separately, and single filing are all tax filing statuses that people can use as they file tax returns each year.
Technically, its full name is the Qualifying Widow(er) with a Dependent Child Tax Status.
How Does the Qualifying Widow(er) Tax Status Work?
This tax status can be used by someone whose spouse has passed for up to 2 years after the year their spouse died.
- The year Spouse A dies: Spouse B can still file married filing jointly
- The 2 years after the year Spouse A died: Spouse B can use the Qualifying Widow(er) tax status (if they meet all other requirements)
There are a few other requirements a tax filer must meet first to qualify for this status.
Qualifying Widow(er) Filing Status Requirements
You can use this status up to 2 years after the year your spouse died. But after those 2 years are over, you will no longer qualify to use this status.
But that's not all!
You also have to have a dependent child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child living with you to qualify.
This child needs to have lived with you the entire tax year, not including temporary absences.
You will also need to have paid more than half of the cost of the household for that tax year.
You May Qualify If:
- It is within the 2-year period after your spouse died
- You have a dependent child
- The dependent child lived with you
- You paid more than half of the household expenses
It is also important to know the reasons you may not qualify for this status anymore.
You Will No Longer Qualify If:
- You remarry in the 2-year period after the year your spouse died
- The 2-year period after the year your spouse died is over
- You do not have a dependent child living in your household
Qualifying Widow(er) Standard Deduction Benefits
This status is used so that someone whose spouse has died can still have the tax benefits of the married filing jointly status for 2 years after their spouse died.
These benefits include the tax benefits of the married filing jointly status like the married filing tax rates and the married filing standard deductions.
For example, the standard deduction for the 2022 tax filing year for tax filers using the married filing jointly status is $25,900.
The standard deduction for the 2022 tax filing year for tax filers using the qualifying widow(er) status is also $25,900.
If you itemize your deductions instead of taking the standard deduction, these numbers could be different.