Being single brings several big upsides, like having the freedom to spend your time and money on the things that are important to you (and you alone)! Though getting married is a well-known tax advantage, being single can also come in handy during tax refund season. So let’s toast to Galentine’s Day (or any other singles celebration) with these five reasons why it pays to be riding solo at tax time.
You Can Get a Credit for Claiming a Dependent
A boyfriend or girlfriend can be claimed as a dependent if they pass some of the same tests used to determine if your child or relative can be claimed as a dependent and live with you all year (You can read about the tests here). Each dependent allows you to claim a credit of $500 for 2018 if they meet the requirements.
It May Be Easier to Qualify for Educational Tax Credits
The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a tax credit of up to $2,500 per student off of the taxes you owe if you paid for eligible college expenses for yourself, your spouse or your dependent. There’s also the Lifetime Learning Credit, which provides a credit of up to $2,000 per tax return for qualified education expenses — but there are income limitations to both, and a spouse’s income could put you beyond the limit.
The full amount of the American Opportunity Tax Credit is available for individuals with a Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) of $90,000 or less or $180,000 for married filing jointly. The full Lifetime Learning Credit is available for MAGI up to $67,000 for single filers, and up to $134,000 for married filing jointly.
No “Newlywed Surprise” On Your Taxes
After getting married, many individuals forget to review their tax withholding with their employer. For some, that means they aren’t withholding enough and may owe at tax time. When you experience major life changes, it’s a good time to look at how your taxes would be impacted.
Marriage or divorce can change your tax situation, and the addition of a dependent (by birth or adoption, or an elderly parent moving in and getting more than 50% of their support from you) may represent additional withholding allowances. No spouse? You may not need to check your W-4 if you didn’t have any life changes. High five!
You Don’t Have to Deal with Someone Else’s Tax Debt
When you pledge “’til death do us part,” you’re also pledging to be liable for your husband or wife’s tax debt. That’s right — if your spouse owes back taxes, you are also responsible for those debts in the eyes of the IRS if you file jointly. The IRS has 10 years to collect the taxes that you owe, so it’s not something that will go away quickly. If you are single, you don’t have to worry about how you’re going to handle your spouse’s debt.
HBIC: Head Bae In Charge
If you are not married, you may be able to file as a head of household as long as:
- You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year.
- You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year.
- A qualifying dependent lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the qualifying person is your dependent parent, he or she doesn’t have to live with you.
What can the claim of being HBIC (Head Bae In Charge) get you? You will see a bigger standard deduction of $18,000 as the head of the household instead of the $12,000 standard deduction for single filers.
Single is fabulous! Enjoy every minute of it, no matter how long it lasts. And don’t worry about knowing tax laws or forms, TurboTax will ask you simple questions about you and give you the tax deductions and credits you are eligible for based on your answers. You can also connect live via one-way video to a TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent with an average of 15 years of experience to get your tax questions answered. A TurboTax Live CPA or Enrolled Agent can also review, sign and file your tax return.