How to File Taxes as a Single Person

by Personal Finance Editor ; Updated July 27, 2017
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Items you will need

  • IRS Forms
  • Financial Calculator
  • Computers
  • Tax Preparation Software

How to File Taxes as a Single Person. Save time and money by using the right filing status for your individual income tax return. Your filing status determines the tax rate on your income and the standard deduction allowed.

Step 1

Determine that you were not legally married as of December 31 of the tax year. If you were legally married, determine that you were legally separated under a separate maintenance order issued by a court.

Step 2

Determine that you did not pay more than half the cost of keeping up the main home of one or both of your parents. The main home of a parent can be a retirement facility or nursing home.

Step 3

Determine that you did not maintain your home for your child, stepchild, adopted child, grandchild, parent, brother or sister for at least half the tax year.

Step 4

Determine that your foster child did not live with you for the entire tax year. Any child who is your dependent may be your foster child.

Step 5

File as a single person, and check the box for single on line 1 of the 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.

Tips

  • Single is almost always a better filing status than married filing separately, but married filing jointly, qualified widow(er) and head of household have lower tax rates and are generally better than single if you qualify. Check out the head-of-household filing status if any relative closer than a cousin lived with you for at least half the tax year, you paid for more than half the cost of the main home of a parent, or any other child lived with you the entire tax year.

Warnings

  • If you begin a common-law marriage in a state that recognizes it as a legal marriage, then you are legally married even if you move to a state where you cannot enter into a common-law marriage. See a certified and experienced tax preparer if your situation is unusual. The cost will probably be less than the extra taxes paid when using the wrong filing status.