Single vs Married Filing Status: Can I File Single If I Am Married?

October 12, 2022

Can I file single if I am married? Usually, you can't use the single filing status when you're married, but there are other options available

One of the things that can make filing taxes stressful is the thought of accidentally doing something wrong and wondering things like, can I file single if I am married? This is another reason using a tax preparation service can be helpful.

Professional tax preparers know all about tax returns and the potential mistakes to look out for. The filing status you use can be one of these potential mistakes to look out for.

Talk with a Tax Filing Professional Today.

What Does the Single Status Mean for Taxes? 

So, can I file single if I am married? First you need to understand what the single status means for taxes. When filing your tax return there is a lot to know including tax terminology. Tax filing statuses are some basic tax terms everyone should know. There are several tax filing statuses you could fall under: 

Tax Filing Statuses: 

  • Single
  • Married Filing Jointly
  • Married Filing Separately
  • Head of Household
  • Qualifying Widow(er)

By meeting the requirements, you can use the single filing status on your tax return. This means that only your income is calculated into how much you make in a year and thus the amount of tax liability you have.

Without joint income calculated into your taxes, this can change which tax bracket you fall under and how much federal income tax you owe. 

You have to meet certain qualifications in order to file under each of these filing statuses. In order to file single, you need to meet the following requirements on the last day of the year:

Filing Status Single Requirements:

  • Be unmarried, be legally separated from a spouse, be in the middle of divorce proceedings, or have a separate maintenance decree. 
  • You don't meet the requirements to file as head of household. 
  • You don't meet the requirements to file as a qualifying widow(er).
Filing status single requirements

Can I File Single If I am Married?

The quick answer to the question, can I file single if I am married, is no. You cannot file single if you are married.

There are some exceptions to this rule, if you are a widow(er), if you are legally separated from your spouse, or if you are under a divorce. 

How Does Legal Separation Work? 

One of the items that comes up when asking, can I file single if I am married, is legal separation.

To be legally separated you need to get a court order to make your separation an official, legal separation.

Legal separation allows both parties to remain married or avoid the complications of a divorce, but have separate housing, finances, assets, and child custody. 

Can I File Single If I Am Married?

If you try using a tax filing status you do not qualify for, you could be fined up to $250,000 and potentially get up to 3 years in jail. This is why it is important to learn about terms like tax brackets, tax credits, and tax filing statuses to make sure you fill out your 1040 form accurately. 

Is It Better to File Single or Married? 

When wondering, can I file single if I am married, some people will argue that there is such a thing as a "marriage tax." There is not literally a marriage tax, but filing a joint return with your spouse combines your taxable income together.

This increases your amount of yearly income and changes your tax bracket and can increase how much you owe in taxes. 

Filing Single or married

Filing Single vs Married

Married couples who are worried about owing more taxes or getting a lower tax refund should consider using the status married filing separately instead of married filing jointly. But there are cons to using the married filing separately status, like not being able to claim as many tax credits available to married couples. 

Filing Single vs Head of Household

Now you may be asking yourself, should I file single or head of household?

If you are a single person, you might be able to consider yourself the head of your household. But the head of household status has specific requirements you need to meet first. Learn more about the head of household filing status before you use it to avoid penalties and fees. 

The Standard Deduction for Single Tax Filers

Taxpayers claim the standard deduction when they file their tax return at the beginning of each year. The standard deduction amount depends on the year and your filing status.

For example, for the 2022 tax year, single filers can claim a $12,950 standard deduction. 

In Conclusion,

Now you can file your taxes with more knowledge and accuracy. No matter your circumstances, it's always smart to do your own research and make sure you are eligible to file as a certain status before choosing it.