Choose your filing status. Your filing status determines the income levels for your federal tax bracket. It is also important for calculating your standard deduction, personal exemptions and deduction phase-out incomes. The table below summarizes the five possible filing status choices. It is important to understand that your marital status as of the last day of the year determines your filing status.
Number of qualifying children:
|Filing status for 2008|
|Married filing jointly||If you are married, you are able to file a joint return with your spouse. If your spouse died during the tax year, you are still able to file a joint return for that year. You may also choose to file separately under the status "married filing separately."|
|Qualified widow(er)||Generally, you qualify for this status if your spouse died during the previous tax year (not the current tax year) and you and your spouse filed a joint tax return in the year immediately prior to their death. You are also required to have at least one dependent child or stepchild for whom you are the primary provider.|
|Single||If you are divorced, legally separated or unmarried as of the last day of the year you should use this status.|
|Head of household||This is the status for unmarried individuals that pay for more than half of the cost to keep up a home. This home needs to be the main home for the income tax filer and at least one qualifying relative. You can also choose this status if you are married, but didn't live with your spouse at anytime during the last six months of the year. You also need to provide more than half of the cost to keep up your home and have at least one dependent child living with you. |
|Married filing separately||If you are married, you have the choice to file separate returns. The filing status for this option is "married filing separately."|
Enter the number of children in your family that qualify for the Earned Income Credit, or EIC. The IRS has a set of three requirements that must be met to have a child considered qualified.
- Your relationship to the child must be:
- Son, daughter, stepchild, eligible foster child, or a descendant (for example, your grandchild) of any of them, or
- Brother, sister, half brother, half sister, stepbrother, stepsister or a descendant of any of them (for example, your niece or nephew).
- Age of your child must be:
- Under age 19 at the end of 2008
- A full-time student under age 24 at the end of 2008, or
- Permanently and totally disabled at any time during 2008, regardless of age.
- Your child must have lived with you in the United States for more than half of 2008.
This is any income from wages, salaries, tips or any other earned income that is taxable. Do not include any nontaxable benefits in this total. Also include any earnings from farms, farm partnerships or businesses that did not require payment of self-employment taxes. Do not include any scholarships, penal income, annuity or pension income.
Include any self-employment income where you were required to pay self-employment taxes. The EIC requires you to reduce your self-employment income by half of your self-employment tax bill.
Investment income includes the total of any of the following: taxable interest, tax-exempt interest, capital gains (do not include any capital gain or loss from the sales of business property), net income from any passive activities (generally, this would income generated from investments where you do not participate in the day to day management of the business or activity).
Nontaxable combat pay:
If you received any nontaxable combat pay, the IRS allows you choose whether to figure your EIC with or without this pay included. This calculator will automatically choose the option that produces the highest EIC.
Adjusted gross income:
Your adjusted gross income. This is usually your earned income entered above, plus any interest, dividends or capital gains. If your adjusted gross income is greater than your earned income, your Earned Income Credit is calculated with your adjusted gross income and compared to the amount you would have received with your earned income. The lower of these two calculated amounts is your Earned Income Credit.
Scholarships, penal and retirement income:
If you received income from any of these sources, it does not qualify for the Earned Income Credit. Your eligible Earned Income is reduced by this amount.
Are you (or spouse if married) between the ages of 25 and 65?
Check this box if you or your spouse will be 25 to 65 years old at the end of the year. To qualify for the Earned Income Credit, either you or your spouse (if you are married) must be at least 25 years old and no greater than 65 years old at the end of the year. This rule only applies to people without any children. Your response is not used if you have one or more qualified children.
Can you (or your spouse if you are married) be claimed as a dependent of someone else?
If you have no qualifying children, you can't be the dependent of someone else and receive Earned Income Credit. If you are married, your spouse must also meet this requirement. Generally speaking, you are considered someone's dependent if they provide for more than half of your support during the year.
Can you (or spouse if married) be claimed as a qualifying child of someone else?
You cannot be a qualifying child of another person and receive Earned Income Credit. If you meet the requirements to be a qualifying child of your parents based on the EIC rules, you are unable to claim any EIC for yourself. This is the case even if your parent or parents do not qualify for EIC and whether or not you have any qualifying children of your own.
Have you (and spouse if married) lived in the U.S. for at least six months?
Check this box if you (and your spouse if married) lived in the United States for more than six months of the year. You must have lived in the U.S. for at least six months and one day during the current year. This only applies if you do not have any qualified children. For military personnel, you are able to include any time spent on extended deployment as living in the U.S.
Information and interactive calculators are made available to you as self-help tools for your independent use and are not intended to provide investment advice. We cannot and do not guarantee their applicability or accuracy in regard to your individual circumstances. All examples are hypothetical and are for illustrative purposes. We encourage you to seek personalized advice from qualified professionals regarding all personal finance issues.