One of the first steps in filing your taxes is determining your filing status.
According to the IRS, the available statuses for taxpayers are:
- Married filing jointly
- Married filing separately
- Head of household
- Qualifying widower with dependent child
But here’s a question for you: When does your tax status change? If you’re married (or divorced) on April 12, 2015, how do you identify on the 2014 taxes due three days later?
In fact, it doesn’t matter what happens to you in April. Or March, February, or January, for that matter.
Your status for the entire year is determined at the stroke of midnight on December 31st.
“I always point to the year Kim Kardashian was married for 72 days and divorced that same year,” says certified public accountant Manuel Pravia of Miami-based firm Morrison, Brown, Argiz, & Farra, LLC. “She was single on December 31st, so for tax purposes, she was single for the entire year.”
Pravia points out that when it comes down to the end of the year, you’re making the decisions that determine the whole year’s tax rates. “It pays to run the numbers,” he says. “If it comes down to ‘Do I get married in December or January?’ it might be worth waiting a month if you can save a few dollars.”
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