Pros & Cons of Being a Single Filer (411 x 600 px)

5 Reasons It’s Great to Be Single at Tax Time

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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)! But you might have heard buzz going around about single people and taxes–mainly the insinuation that you’re going to be on the hook for a lot more going into tax time solo.

There aren’t single-people taxes that target you for not having a spouse. Though getting married is a well-known tax advantage, being single can also have its own silver lining in some cases.

Let’s look at some potential advantages and disadvantages you may find yourself facing when filing taxes as a single person.

What does it mean to file as “single”?

The “single” filing status for taxpayers include:

  • People who are unmarried.
  • Individuals divorced or legally separated from a spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree governed by state law by the last day of the year.
  • Those who do not qualify for another filing status.
Woman in home office sitting in front of a table with a laptop open and writing in a notebook.

How do I know if I have to pay taxes as a single filer?

Most US citizens and permanent residents who work in the US need to file a tax return if they make over a certain amount for the year. Whether you need to pay taxes or not is determined by your age, gross income, and filing status.

Tax filing statuses  have different income thresholds and are divided into five filing categories:

  • Single
  • Head of household
  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separate
  • Qualifying spouse

As a single filer under 65, generally, you’ll need to file federal income taxes if your gross income was $13,850 or more for tax year 2023 (the taxes you file in 2024). If you’re over 65 and a single filer, you’ll likely need to file a federal tax return if you receive $15,700 or more in nonexempt income (in addition to Social Security benefits).

What are the advantages of filing as single?

Do single people pay more taxes? Being single has more advantages than just financial freedom and the ability to spend your money on whatever you want. Potential advantages for single people can include less complicated tax returns, easier time qualifying for certain credits and deductions, and more.

Less complicated tax returns

Typically, single filers deal with less complicated tax returns that require less paperwork. This is because you’ll just have to worry about your own documentation and considerations for filing taxes. When you involve another person, things like tax debt and other tax offsets, respective incomes, and more come into play.

While these things aren’t impossible to navigate by any means, they just create a bit more work when it comes to filing your taxes.

May be easier to qualify for certain deductions

Taxpayers who fall under the single filing status with a lower income may find it easier to qualify for certain deductions. This is because tax deductions for single people usually have a lower threshold to qualify.

For example, you can claim medical and dental expense deductions that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income. Filing as a single person means you likely have a lower adjusted gross income than, say, a couple earning dual incomes, which may allow you to claim your medical expenses that you might not have been able to surpass the threshold with.

Some single taxpayers qualify for filing as head of household rather than single, which allows you to claim a larger standard deduction if they have a dependent. Generally, the head of the household filing status is for unmarried taxpayers who paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home and have a dependent who lives with them for more than half of the tax year. 

Tax write-offs for single people can vary depending on their circumstances, such as what types of expenses you incur throughout the year and your lifestyle. Look into these commonly overlooked tax deductions to learn more about how you might be able to lower your taxable income.

Don’t have to worry about unequal tax burdens

When you pledge “’til death do us part,” you’re also pledging to be liable for your spouse’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.

Easier to qualify for education tax credits

It might also be easier to qualify for tax credits for single people, like the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which provides a tax credit of up to $2,500 per student off of the taxes you owe if you paid for qualified college expenses for an eligible student.

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; if you had a spouse, their additional income would put you beyond the limit of claiming the education credits.

Graphic showing the amounts for the Lifetime Learning Credit and American Opportunity Tax Credit.

The full amount of the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) is available for individuals with a Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI) of $80,000 or less and $160,000 or less for married filing jointly. The credit is reduced if your MAGI is above $80,000 but less than $90,000 (over $160,000 but less than $180,000 for married filing jointly). The full Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is available for MAGI under $80,000 for single filers, and under $160,000 for married filing jointly. The LLC is gradually phased out if your MAGI is between $80,000 and $90,000 ($160,000 and $180,000 if you file a joint return) for tax year 2023.

Learn more about potential savings for students.

What are some disadvantages of single people’s taxes?

Why do single people sometimes pay more taxes? While singles may love the independence afforded by their relationship status, many single taxpayers face drawbacks in the form of:

  • Fewer tax breaks
  • Higher household expenses
  • Bigger rent payments
  • Other single-people tax disadvantages

You might end up in a higher tax bracket

Single people often face higher income tax rates than married couples filing together. Of course, this depends on your specific income level, but the respective tax brackets have much wider income ranges for married filers than singles. 

For example, single filers who make between $0 and $11,000 have a tax rate of 10%. That same rate applies to married people filing together who make up to $22,000. Single people who make $22,000 would have all income over that $11,000 threshold taxed at 12%.

Find out which tax bracket you fall into.

You’ll have a lower standard deduction

The standard deduction is a specific dollar amount that reduces the amount of income you’re taxed.

For 2023, the standard deduction for those married filing jointly was $27,700, while for single filers, it was $13,850 for single filers. Note that the standard deduction is typically adjusted for inflation each year.

Chart showing the 2023 and 2024 standard deductions for single and married, filing jointly taxpayers.

Potential ways to save when filing as a single person

Feel prepared this tax season with potential ways to save when filing as a single person and learn tips on how to potentially lower your tax bill or taxable income. 

Claim a significant other as 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).

If your significant other can be claimed as a dependent, you can claim the new Other Dependent Credit for non-child dependents up to $500.

You may be able to file as Head of Household

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 $20,800 as the head of the household instead of the $13,850 standard deduction for single filers.

Single is fabulous! Enjoy every minute of it, no matter how long it lasts. No matter what moves you made last year, TurboTax will make them count on your taxes. Whether you want to do your taxes yourself or have a TurboTax expert file for you, we’ll make sure you get every dollar you deserve and your biggest possible refund – guaranteed. 

3 responses to “5 Reasons It’s Great to Be Single at Tax Time”

  1. How about if you’re a single senior that works full time and pays a lot of taxes at work.
    Pays a huge amount of rent.
    Any tax advice?

  2. A single person with no dependant should also be allowed to claim “Head of Household”! We still have to provide a home and pay utilities for our selfs, so why does one more person in the home grant a tax payer an extra $6000? The single tax payer pays more taxes and receives no benifits! This needs to change! Those with children receive way too much in tax refunds. They just know how to work the system. I feel that the IRS needs to audit those filers claiming a boyfriend or girlfriend! That is so unjust yet a single , hardworking,honest tax payer with no dependant cannot claim head of household? Tax laws need to be more fair!

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