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What Is It?

Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child — let's just call it qualifying widow(er) — is a filing status for federal income tax returns that may be available to you if your spouse died at any time during the prior two tax years. The filing status that you choose is important because it determines, in part, whether or not you are required to file a tax return, the amount of your standard deduction, the deductions and credits that are available to you, and the amount of your correct tax for the year. The qualifying widow(er) status allows you to use joint tax rates and the highest possible standard deduction (if you don't itemize deductions), so it's generally very advantageous for those who meet the requirements.

Who Can Use The Qualifying Widow(ER) Filing Status? All of The Following Must Be True:

Your Spouse Died either the Previous Tax Year or the Tax Year Prior To That

You are eligible to use qualifying widow(er) status for two years following the year your spouse died. If, for example, your spouse died in 2019 and you do not remarry, you may be able to use the qualifying widow(er) filing status for the 2020 and 2021 tax years.

You Could Have Filed a Joint Return with Your Spouse for the Year Your Spouse Died

It doesn't matter whether or not you actually filed a joint return for the year your spouse died, only that you could have.

Example(s): Hal's wife, Jane, died in 2019. Hal could file a joint return for himself and his deceased wife for 2019, but does not. If all other requirements are met, Hal could file his 2020 and 2021 federal income tax returns using the qualifying widow(er) filing status.

You Didn't Remarry Before the End of the Tax Year

If you remarried before the end of the tax year, you can't file as qualifying widow(er).

You Have a Qualifying Dependent Child

To file as qualifying widow(er), you must have a child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child who qualifies as your dependent for the year.

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You Provide Over Half the Cost of Keeping up A Home for You and Your Qualifying Dependent Child

To file as qualifying widow(er), you must have paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for you and your dependent child for the entire year, except for temporary absences. The cost of keeping up a home includes such costs as rent, mortgage interest, taxes, insurance, repairs, utilities, and food eaten in the home. It does not include the cost of clothing, education, medical expenses, vacations, life insurance, transportation, or the rental value of a home you own. IRS Publication 17 provides the following worksheet for determining whether or not you provide over half the cost of maintaining a home:


Amount You Paid

Total Cost

Property taxes



Mortgage interest expense






Utility charges






Property insurance



Food consumed on the premises



Other household expenses






Minus total amount you paid



Amount others paid



If you paid more than the amount others paid, you meet the requirement of paying more than half the cost of keeping up the home.

What Does Filing as Qualifying Widow(Er) Mean To You

When you file your federal income tax return using the qualifying widow(er) filing status, you get the advantage of using the same beneficial tax rates that you would if you had filed as married filing jointly. You also get the same standard deduction amount that you would have been entitled to (assuming that you do not itemize deductions) had you filed as married filing jointly. This standard deduction amount is the largest available. Even though you get the most important benefits of married filing jointly status, your return is still a separate, individual return.



This material was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of The Retirement Group or FSC Financial Corp. This information should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named Representatives nor Broker/Dealer gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If other expert assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. Please consult your Financial Advisor for further information or call 800-900-5867.


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