The beginning of March is that time of year when all that mail piled up on your kitchen counter or home office starts barking at you. Your W-2’s, your 1099’s, your mortgage and bank interest statements all sitting there waiting for you to pull out your 1040 and start the annual slog through your taxes. It’s not fun, it’s rarely easy and it’s time consuming. You’re looking for some help and we’re setting out to give you some.
We start with one of the things right up front. After filling out your name, address and Social Security number you get to your filing status. This may seem simple and yet there are a lot of different ways to file and some people even qualify for more than one. So which do you choose and when? Here are the answers:
Filing Status: Your marital status on December 31, 2011
Choose: The one providing the lowest possible tax obligation
Single: Most anyone not married, but there are exceptions [See Below]
Filing Jointly: Any legally married couple. Also if your spouse died in 2011 and you did not re-marry you will still file married jointly.
Filing Separately: You can do it but most often it is a very bad idea. The system is set up for this to be very expensive and it does not give you the lowest possible tax obligation. If you feel compelled to file separately, see a tax professional to make certain it is the best choice for you.
Widow or Widower: If your spouse died in 2009 or 2010, you have one or more dependent children and you have not remarried, choose this status.
Head of Household: If you are not married, you paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for a qualified person [children or elderly parents or relatives] this is the best choice.
Of course there is much more to know about this and all of your taxes. You can go to the IRS website more tips. Hang in there, tax season is survivable!