The IRS offers these 5 tax filing statuses:
- Married filing jointly
- Married filing separately
- Head of household
- Qualifying widow(er)
You may qualify for more than one tax filing status. For example, a single (unmarried) person isn't necessarily restricted to the single filing status. They may be able to file as head of household or qualifying widow(er), assuming those qualifications are met. But if they weren't legally married as of December 31, 2020, they couldn't file their 2020 return as a married person.
Likewise, someone who was legally married as of December 31, 2020 could file as married jointly, married separately, or head of household (again, if they meet the qualifications). But they couldn't file as single or qualifying widow(er).
If more than one filing status applies to your particular situation, we'll choose the one that gives you the biggest tax break.