Pub 501 PDF Details

The Pub 501 form is a document used to report the financial information of a business. This form is used to report income, expenses, and profits for a business. The pub 501 form is also used to report any liabilities or assets that the business may have. This form is required for businesses who file taxes as a corporation. It is important to understand how this form works and what needs to be reported in order to avoid penalties from the IRS. For more information on the pub 501 form, please contact an accountant or tax specialist.

If you want to first understand how much time you will need to complete the pub 501 and how many pages it has, here's some general data that will be useful.

QuestionAnswer
Form NamePub 501
Form Length29 pages
Fillable?No
Fillable fields0
Avg. time to fill out7 min 15 sec
Other namesfiling, 501, federal publication 501, irs pub 501

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Department of the Treasury

Internal

Revenue

Service

Jan 10, 2022

Publication 501

Cat. No. 15000U

Dependents,

Standard

Deduction,

and Filing

Information

For use in preparing 2021 Returns

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Contents

 

What's New

. . . . . 1

Reminders

. . . . . 1

Introduction

. . . . . 2

Who Must File

. . . . . 2

Who Should File

. . . . . 5

Filing Status

. . . . . 5

Dependents

. . . . 11

Social Security Numbers for

 

Dependents

. . . . 22

Standard Deduction

. . . . 23

2021 Standard Deduction Tables

. . . . 24

How To Get Tax Help

. . . . 26

Index

. . . . 29

What's New

Who must file. In some cases, the amount of income you can receive before you must file a tax return has increased. Table 1 shows the fil- ing requirements for most taxpayers.

Standard deduction increased. The stand- ard deduction for taxpayers who don't itemize their deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040 or 1040-SR is higher for 2021 than it was for 2020. The amount depends on your filing status. You can use the 2021 Standard Deduction Tables near the end of this publication to figure your standard deduction.

Charitable contribution deduction. In 2021, you are allowed a charitable contribution de- duction for cash contributions of up to $300 ($600 if your filing status is married filing jointly) if you don't itemize your deductions. For more information, see Line 12b in the Instructions for Form 1040.

Reminders

Future developments. Information about any future developments affecting Pub. 501 (such as legislation enacted after we release it) will be posted at IRS.gov/Pub501.

Taxpayer identification number for aliens. If you are a nonresident or resident alien and you don't have and aren't eligible to get a social security number (SSN), you must apply for an individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Your spouse may also need an ITIN if he or she doesn't have and isn't eligible to get an SSN. See Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number. Also see So- cial Security Numbers for Dependents, later.

Photographs of missing children. The Inter- nal Revenue Service is a proud partner with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC). Photographs of missing

Table 1. 2021 Filing Requirements Chart for Most Taxpayers

 

 

THEN file a return

 

AND at the end of 2021 you

if your gross

IF your filing status is...

income was at

were...*

least...**

single

under 65

$12,550

 

65 or older

$14,250

head of household

under 65

$18,800

 

65 or older

$20,500

married, filing jointly***

under 65 (both spouses)

$25,100

 

65 or older (one spouse)

$26,450

 

65 or older (both spouses)

$27,800

married, filing separately

any age

$5

qualifying widow(er)

under 65

$25,100

 

65 or older

$26,450

*If you were born before January 2, 1957, you're considered to be 65 or older at the end of 2021. (If your spouse died in 2021, see Death of spouse, later. If you're preparing a return for someone who died in 2021, see Death of taxpayer, later.

**Gross income means all income you receive in the form of money, goods, property, and services that isn't exempt from tax, including any income from sources outside the United States or from the sale of your main home (even if you can exclude part or all of it). Don't include any social security benefits unless (a) you're married filing a separate return and you lived with your spouse at any time during 2021, or (b) one-half of your social security benefits plus your other gross income and any tax-exempt interest is more than $25,000 ($32,000 if married filing jointly). If (a) or (b) applies, see the Form 1040 and 1040-SR instructions to figure the taxable part of social security benefits you must include in gross income. Gross income includes gains, but not losses, reported on Form 8949 or Schedule D. Gross income from a business means, for example, the amount on Schedule C, line 7; or Schedule F, line 9. But in figuring gross income, don't reduce your income by any losses, including any loss on Schedule C, line 7; or Schedule F, line 9.

***If you didn't live with your spouse at the end of 2021 (or on the date your spouse died) and your gross income was at least $5, you must file a return regardless of your age.

Nonresident aliens. If you were a nonresident alien at any time during the year, the rules and tax forms that apply to you may be different from those that apply to U.S. citizens. See Pub. 519.

Comments and suggestions. We welcome your comments about this publication and sug- gestions for future editions.

You can send us comments through IRS.gov/FormComments. Or, you can write to the Internal Revenue Service, Tax Forms and Publications, 1111 Constitution Ave. NW, IR-6526, Washington, DC 20224.

Although we can’t respond individually to each comment received, we do appreciate your feedback and will consider your comments and suggestions as we revise our tax forms, instruc- tions, and publications. Don’t send tax ques- tions, tax returns, or payments to the above ad- dress.

Getting answers to your tax questions. If you have a tax question not answered by this publication or the How To Get Tax Help section at the end of this publication, go to the IRS In- teractive Tax Assistant page at IRS.gov/ Help/ITA where you can find topics by using the search feature or viewing the categories listed.

Getting tax forms, instructions, and pub- lications. Go to IRS.gov/Forms to download current and prior-year forms, instructions, and publications.

Ordering tax forms, instructions, and publications. Go to IRS.gov/OrderForms to order current forms, instructions, and publica- tions; call 800-829-3676 to order prior-year forms and instructions. The IRS will process your order for forms and publications as soon as possible. Don’t resubmit requests you’ve al- ready sent us. You can get forms and publica- tions faster online.

Useful Items

You may want to see:

children selected by the Center may appear in this publication on pages that would otherwise be blank. You can help bring these children home by looking at the photographs and calling 800-THE-LOST (800-843-5678) if you recog- nize a child.

Introduction

This publication discusses some tax rules that affect every person who may have to file a fed- eral income tax return. It answers some basic questions: who must file, who should file, what filing status to use, and the amount of the stand- ard deduction.

Who Must File explains who must file an in- come tax return. If you have little or no gross in- come, reading this section will help you decide if you have to file a return.

Who Should File helps you decide if you should file a return, even if you aren't required to do so.

Filing Status helps you determine which fil- ing status to use. Filing status is important in determining whether you must file a return and whether you may claim certain deductions and

credits. It also helps determine your standard deduction and tax rate.

Dependents explains the difference be- tween a qualifying child and a qualifying rela- tive. Other topics include the social security number requirement for dependents, the rules for multiple support agreements, and the rules for divorced or separated parents.

Standard Deduction gives the rules and dol- lar amounts for the standard deduction—a ben- efit for taxpayers who don't itemize their deduc- tions. This section also discusses the standard deduction for taxpayers who are blind or age 65 or older, as well as special rules that limit the standard deduction available to dependents. In addition, this section helps you decide whether you would be better off taking the standard de- duction or itemizing your deductions.

How To Get Tax Help explains how to get tax help from the IRS.

This publication is for U.S. citizens and resi- dent aliens only. If you are a resident alien for the entire year, you must follow the same tax rules that apply to U.S. citizens. The rules to de- termine if you are a resident or nonresident alien are discussed in chapter 1 of Pub. 519.

Publication

559 Survivors, Executors, and Administrators

929 Tax Rules for Children and Dependents

Form (and Instructions)

1040-X Amended U.S. Individual Income

Tax Return

2848 Power of Attorney and Declaration

of Representative

8332 Release/Revocation of Release of

Claim to Exemption for Child by

Custodial Parent

8814 Parents' Election To Report Child's

Interest and Dividends

Who Must File

If you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien, whether you must file a federal income tax re- turn depends on your gross income, your filing

Page 2

Publication 501 (2021)

status, your age, and whether you are a de- pendent. For details, see Table 1 and Table 2. You must also file if one of the situations descri- bed in Table 3 applies. The filing requirements apply even if you owe no tax.

You may have to pay a penalty if you are re- quired to file a return but fail to do so. If you will- fully fail to file a return, you may be subject to criminal prosecution.

Gross income. Gross income is all income you receive in the form of money, goods, prop- erty, and services that isn't exempt from tax. If you are married and live with your spouse in a community property state, half of any income defined by state law as community income may be considered yours. For a list of community property states, see Community property states under Married Filing Separately, later.

Self-employed persons. If you are self-employed in a business that provides serv- ices (where products aren't a factor), your gross income from that business is the gross receipts. If you are self-employed in a business involving manufacturing, merchandising, or mining, your gross income from that business is the total sales minus the cost of goods sold. In either case, you must add any income from invest- ments and from incidental or outside operations or sources.

Filing status. Your filing status generally de- pends on whether you are single or married. Whether you are single or married is deter- mined at the end of your tax year, which is De- cember 31 for most taxpayers. Filing status is discussed in detail later in this publication.

Age. Age is a factor in determining if you must file a return only if you are 65 or older at the end of your tax year. For 2021, you are 65 or older if you were born before January 2, 1957.

Filing Requirements for Most Taxpayers

You must file a return if your gross income for the year was at least the amount shown on the appropriate line in Table 1. Dependents should see Table 2 instead.

Deceased Persons

You must file an income tax return for a dece- dent (a person who died) if both of the following are true.

1.You are the surviving spouse, executor, administrator, or legal representative.

2.The decedent met the filing requirements described in this publication at the time of his or her death.

For more information, see Final Income Tax Return for Decedent—Form 1040 or 1040-SR in Pub. 559.

Death of spouse. If your spouse died in 2021, read this before using Table 1 or Table 2 to find whether you must file a 2021 return. Consider your spouse to be 65 or older at the end of 2021 only if he or she was 65 or older at the time of

Publication 501 (2021)

death. Even if your spouse was born before January 2, 1957, he or she isn't considered 65 or older at the end of 2021 unless he or she was 65 or older at the time of death.

A person is considered to reach age 65 on the day before his or her 65th birthday.

Example. Your spouse was born on Febru- ary 14, 1956, and died on February 13, 2021. Your spouse is considered age 65 at the time of death. However, if your spouse died on Febru- ary 12, 2021, your spouse isn't considered age 65 at the time of death and is not 65 or older at the end of 2021.

Death of taxpayer. If you are preparing a re- turn for someone who died in 2021, read this before using Table 1 or Table 2. Consider the taxpayer to be 65 or older at the end of 2021 only if he or she was 65 or older at the time of death. Even if the taxpayer was born before January 2, 1957, he or she isn't considered 65 or older at the end of 2021 unless he or she was 65 or older at the time of death.

A person is considered to reach age 65 on the day before his or her 65th birthday.

U.S. Citizens or Resident Aliens Living Abroad

To determine whether you must file a return, in- clude in your gross income any income you earned or received abroad, including any in- come you can exclude under the foreign earned income exclusion. For more information on spe- cial tax rules that may apply to you, see Pub. 54.

Residents of Puerto Rico

If you are a U.S. citizen and also a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico, you must generally file a U.S. income tax return for any year in which you meet the income requirements. This is in addition to any legal requirement you may have to file an income tax return with Puerto Rico.

If you are a bona fide resident of Puerto Rico for the whole year, your U.S. gross income doesn't include income from sources within Pu- erto Rico. It does, however, include any income you received for your services as an employee of the United States or any U.S. agency. If you receive income from Puerto Rican sources that isn't subject to U.S. tax, you must reduce your standard deduction, which reduces the amount of income you can have before you must file a U.S. income tax return.

For more information, see Pub. 570, Tax Guide for Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions.

Individuals With Income From U.S. Possessions

If you had income from Guam, the Common- wealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Ameri- can Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands, special rules may apply when determining whether you

must file a U.S. federal income tax return. In ad- dition, you may have to file a return with the in- dividual possession government. See Pub. 570 for more information.

Dependents

A person who is a dependent may still have to file a return. It depends on his or her earned in- come, unearned income, and gross income. For details, see Table 2. A dependent must also file if one of the situations described in Table 3 applies.

Responsibility of parent. If a dependent child must file an income tax return but can't file due to age or any other reason, a parent, guardian, or other legally responsible person must file it for the child. If the child can't sign the return, the parent or guardian must sign the child's name followed by the words “By (your signature), pa- rent for minor child.”

Earned income. Earned income includes sal- aries, wages, professional fees, and other amounts received as pay for work you actually perform. Earned income (only for purposes of filing requirements and the standard deduction) also includes any part of a taxable scholarship. See chapter 1 of Pub. 970 for more information on taxable and nontaxable scholarships.

Child's earnings. Amounts a child earns by performing services are included in his or her gross income and not the gross income of the parent. This is true even if under local law the child's parent has the right to the earnings and may actually have received them. But if the child doesn't pay the tax due on this income, the parent is liable for the tax.

Unearned income. Unearned income in- cludes income such as interest, dividends, and capital gains. Trust distributions of interest, divi- dends, capital gains, and survivor annuities are also considered unearned income.

Election to report child's unearned income on parent's return. You may be able to in- clude your child's interest and dividend income on your tax return. If you do this, your child won't have to file a return. To make this elec- tion, all of the following conditions must be met.

Your child was under age 19 (or under age 24 if a student) at the end of 2021. (A child born on January 1, 2003, is considered to be age 19 at the end of 2021; you can't make the election for this child unless the child was a student. Similarly, a child born on January 1, 1998, is considered to be age 24 at the end of 2021; you can't make the election for this child.)

Your child had gross income only from in- terest and dividends (including capital gain distributions and Alaska Permanent Fund dividends).

The interest and dividend income was less than $11,000.

Your child is required to file a return for 2021 unless you make this election.

Your child doesn't file a joint return for 2021.

Page 3

Table 2. 2021 Filing Requirements for Dependents

See Dependents to find out if you are a dependent.

If your parent (or someone else) can claim you as a dependent, use this table to see if you must file a return.

In this table, unearned income includes taxable interest, ordinary dividends, and capital gain distributions. It also includes unemployment compensation, taxable social security benefits, pensions, annuities, and distributions of unearned income from a trust. Earned income includes salaries, wages, tips, professional fees, and taxable scholarship and fellowship grants. Gross income is the total of your unearned and earned income.

!If your gross income was $4,300 or more, you usually can't be claimed as a dependent unless you are a qualifying child. For details, see Dependents.

CAUTION

Single dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?

No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

1.Your unearned income was more than $1,100.

2.Your earned income was more than $12,550.

3.Your gross income was more than the larger of—

a.$1,100, or

b.Your earned income (up to $12,200) plus $350.

Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

1.Your unearned income was more than $2,800 ($4,500 if 65 or older and blind).

2.Your earned income was more than $14,250 ($15,950 if 65 or older and blind).

3.Your gross income was more than the larger of—

a.$2,800 ($4,500 if 65 or older and blind), or

b.Your earned income (up to $12,200) plus $2,050 ($3,750 if 65 or older and blind).

Married dependents—Were you either age 65 or older or blind?

No. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

1.Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.

2.Your unearned income was more than $1,100.

3.Your earned income was more than $12,550.

4.Your gross income was more than the larger of—

a.$1,100, or

b.Your earned income (up to $12,200) plus $350.

Yes. You must file a return if any of the following apply.

1.Your gross income was at least $5 and your spouse files a separate return and itemizes deductions.

2.Your unearned income was more than $2,450 ($3,800 if 65 or older and blind).

3.Your earned income was more than $13,900 ($15,250 if 65 or older and blind).

4.Your gross income was more than the larger of—

a.$2,450 ($3,800 if 65 or older and blind), or

b.Your earned income (up to $12,200) plus $1,700 ($3,050 if 65 or older and blind).

Page 4

Publication 501 (2021)

Table 3. Other Situations When You Must File a 2021 Return

You must file a return if any of the conditions below apply.

1.You owe any special taxes reported on Schedule 2 (Form 1040), including any of the following (see the instructions for Schedule 2 (Form 1040)).

a.Alternative minimum tax.

b.Additional tax on a qualified plan, including an individual retirement arrangement (IRA), or other tax-favored account.

c.Social security or Medicare tax on tips you didn't report to your employer or on wages you received from an employer who didn't withhold these taxes.

d.Uncollected social security, Medicare, or railroad retirement tax on tips you reported to your employer or on group-term life insurance and additional taxes on health savings accounts.

e.Household employment taxes.

f.Recapture taxes.

2.You (or your spouse if filing jointly) received Archer MSA, Medicare Advantage MSA, or health savings account distributions.

3.You had net earnings from self-employment of at least $400.

4.You had wages of $108.28 or more from a church or qualified church-controlled organization that is exempt from employer social security and Medicare taxes.

5.Advance payments of the premium tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent who enrolled in coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You or whoever enrolled you should have received Form(s) 1095-A showing the amount of the advance payments.

6.Advance payments of the health coverage tax credit were made for you, your spouse, or a dependent. You or whoever enrolled you should have received Form(s) 1099-H showing the amount of the advance payments.

7.You are required to include amounts in income under section 965 or you have a net tax liability under section 965 that you are paying in installments under section 965(h) or deferred by making an election under section 965(i).

No estimated tax payment was made for 2021 and no 2020 overpayment was ap- plied to 2021 under your child's name and social security number.

No federal income tax was withheld from your child's income under the backup with- holding rules.

You are the parent whose return must be used when making the election to report your child's unearned income.

For more information, see Form 8814 and Parent's Election To Report Child's Interest and Dividends in Pub. 929.

Other Situations

You may have to file a tax return even if your gross income is less than the amount shown in Table 1 or Table 2 for your filing status. See Ta- ble 3 for those other situations when you must file.

Who Should File

Even if you don't have to file, you should file a tax return if you can get money back. For exam- ple, you should file if one of the following ap- plies.

Publication 501 (2021)

1.You had income tax withheld from your pay.

2.You made estimated tax payments for the year or had any of your overpayment for last year applied to this year's estimated tax.

3.You qualify for the earned income credit. See Pub. 596 for more information.

4.You qualify for the refundable child tax credit or additional child tax credit. See the Instructions for Form 1040 for more infor- mation.

5.You qualify for the refundable American opportunity credit. See Form 8863.

6.You qualify for the health coverage tax credit. For information on this credit, see Form 8885.

7.You qualify for the credit for federal tax on fuels. See Form 4136.

8.You qualify for the premium tax credit. See Form 8962.

9.You qualify for the recovery rebate credit. See the instructions for Form 1040,

line 30.

10.You qualify for the credits for sick and fam- ily leave. See Form 7202.

11.You qualify for the credit for child and de- pendent care expenses. See Form 2441.

Form 1099-B received. Even if you aren't re- quired to file a return, you should consider filing if all of the following apply.

You received a Form 1099-B, Proceeds From Broker and Barter Exchange Trans- actions (or substitute statement).

The amount in box 1d of Form 1099-B (or substitute statement), when added to your other gross income, means you have to file a tax return because of the filing require- ment in Table 1 or Table 2 that applies to you.

Box 1e of Form 1099-B (or substitute statement) is blank.

In this case, filing a return may keep you from getting a notice from the IRS.

Filing Status

You must determine your filing status before you can determine whether you must file a tax return, your standard deduction (discussed later), and your tax. You also use your filing sta- tus to determine whether you are eligible to claim certain other deductions and credits.

Page 5

There are five filing statuses.

Single.

Married filing jointly.

Married filing separately.

Head of household.

Qualifying widow(er).

If more than one filing status applies to you, choose the one that will give you the lowest tax.

Marital Status

In general, your filing status depends on whether you are considered unmarried or mar- ried.

Unmarried persons. You are considered un- married for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you are either:

Unmarried, or

Legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.

State law governs whether you are married or legally separated under a divorce or separate maintenance decree.

Divorced persons. If you are divorced un- der a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year.

Divorce and remarriage. If you obtain a divorce for the sole purpose of filing tax returns as unmarried individuals, and at the time of di- vorce you intend to and do, in fact, remarry each other in the next tax year, you and your spouse must file as married individuals in both years.

Annulled marriages. If you obtain a court decree of annulment, which holds that no valid marriage ever existed, you are considered un- married even if you filed joint returns for earlier years. File amended returns (Form 1040-X) claiming single or head of household status for all tax years that are affected by the annulment and not closed by the statute of limitations for filing a tax return. Generally, for a credit or re- fund, you must file Form 1040-X within 3 years (including extensions) after the date you filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. If you filed your original tax return early (for example, March 1), your return is considered filed on the due date (generally April 15). However, if you had an extension to file (for example, until Octo- ber 15) but you filed earlier and we received it on July 1, your return is considered filed on July 1.

Head of household or qualifying widow(er). If you are considered unmarried, you may be able to file as head of household or as qualifying widow(er). See Head of House- hold and Qualifying Widow(er) to see if you qualify.

Married persons. If you are considered mar- ried, you and your spouse can file a joint return or separate returns.

Considered married. You are considered married for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you and your spouse meet any one of the following tests.

Page 6

1.You are married and living together.

2.You are living together in a common law marriage recognized in the state where you now live or in the state where the com- mon law marriage began.

3.You are married and living apart but not le- gally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance.

4.You are separated under an interlocutory (not final) decree of divorce.

Spouse died during the year. If your spouse died during the year, you are consid- ered married for the whole year for filing status purposes.

If you didn't remarry before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse. For the next 2 years, you may be entitled to the special bene- fits described, later, under Qualifying Widow(er).

If you remarried before the end of the tax year, you can file a joint return with your new spouse. Your deceased spouse's filing status is married filing separately for that year.

Married persons living apart. If you live apart from your spouse and meet certain tests, you may be able to file as head of household even if you aren't divorced or legally separated. If you qualify to file as head of household in- stead of as married filing separately, your standard deduction will be higher and your tax may be lower. See Head of Household, later.

Single

Your filing status is single if you are considered unmarried and you don't qualify for another fil- ing status. To determine your marital status, see Marital Status, earlier.

Widow(er). Your filing status may be single if you were widowed before January 1, 2021, and didn't remarry before the end of 2021. You may, however, be able to use another filing status that will give you a lower tax. See Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er), later, to see if you qualify.

On Form 1040 or 1040-SR, show your filing status as single by checking the “Single” box on the Filing Status line at the top of the form. Use the Single column of the Tax Table, or Sec- tion A of the Tax Computation Worksheet, to figure your tax.

Married Filing Jointly

You can choose married filing jointly as your fil- ing status if you are considered married and both you and your spouse agree to file a joint return. On a joint return, you and your spouse report your combined income and deduct your combined allowable expenses. You can file a joint return even if one of you had no income or deductions.

If you and your spouse decide to file a joint return, your tax may be lower than your com- bined tax for the other filing statuses. Also, your standard deduction (if you don't itemize deduc- tions) may be higher, and you may qualify for

tax benefits that don't apply to other filing sta- tuses.

On Form 1040 or 1040-SR, show your filing status as married filing jointly by checking the “Married filing jointly” box on the Filing Status line at top of the form. Use the Married filing jointly column of the Tax Table, or Section B of the Tax Computation Worksheet, to figure your tax.

If you and your spouse each have in- TIP come, you may want to figure your tax both on a joint return and on separate returns (using the filing status of married filing

separately). You can choose the method that gives the two of you the lower combined tax un- less you are required to file separately.

Spouse died. If your spouse died during the year, you are considered married for the whole year and can choose married filing jointly as your filing status. See Spouse died during the year, under Married persons, earlier.

If your spouse died in 2022 before filing a 2021 return, you can choose married filing jointly as your filing status on your 2021 return.

Divorced persons. If you are divorced under a final decree by the last day of the year, you are considered unmarried for the whole year and you can't choose married filing jointly as your fil- ing status.

Filing a Joint Return

Both you and your spouse must include all of your income and deductions on your joint re- turn.

Accounting period. Both of you must use the same accounting period, but you can use differ- ent accounting methods.

Joint responsibility. Both of you may be held responsible, jointly and individually, for the tax and any interest or penalty due on your joint re- turn. This means that if one spouse doesn't pay the tax due, the other may have to. Or, if one spouse doesn't report the correct tax, both spouses may be responsible for any additional taxes assessed by the IRS. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse.

You may want to file separately if:

You believe your spouse isn't reporting all of his or her income, or

You don't want to be responsible for any taxes due if your spouse doesn't have enough tax withheld or doesn't pay enough estimated tax.

Divorced taxpayer. You may be held jointly and individually responsible for any tax, interest, and penalties due on a joint return filed before your divorce. This responsibility may ap- ply even if your divorce decree states that your former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns.

Relief from joint responsibility. In some cases, one spouse may be relieved of joint re- sponsibility for tax, interest, and penalties on a joint return for items of the other spouse that were incorrectly reported on the joint return.

Publication 501 (2021)

You can ask for relief no matter how small the liability.

There are three types of relief available.

1.Innocent spouse relief.

2.Separation of liability (available only to joint filers who are divorced, widowed, le- gally separated, or who haven't lived to- gether for the 12 months ending on the date the election for this relief is filed).

3.Equitable relief.

You must file Form 8857, Request for Inno- cent Spouse Relief, to request relief from joint responsibility. Pub. 971 explains the kinds of re- lief and who may qualify for them.

Signing a joint return. For a return to be con- sidered a joint return, both spouses must gener- ally sign the return.

Spouse died before signing. If your spouse died before signing the return, the exec- utor or administrator must sign the return for your spouse. If neither you nor anyone else has been appointed as executor or administrator, you can sign the return for your spouse and en- ter “Filing as surviving spouse” in the area where you sign the return.

Spouse away from home. If your spouse is away from home, you should prepare the re- turn, sign it, and send it to your spouse to sign so it can be filed on time.

Injury or disease prevents signing. If your spouse can't sign because of injury or dis- ease and tells you to sign for him or her, you can sign your spouse's name in the proper space on the return followed by the words “By (your name), Husband (or Wife).” Be sure to sign in the space provided for your signature. Attach a dated statement, signed by you, to the return. The statement should include the form number of the return you are filing, the tax year, and the reason your spouse can't sign, and it should state that your spouse has agreed to your signing for him or her.

Signing as guardian of spouse. If you are the guardian of your spouse who is mentally in- competent, you can sign the return for your spouse as guardian.

Spouse in combat zone. You can sign a joint return for your spouse if your spouse can't sign because he or she is serving in a combat zone (such as the Persian Gulf area, Serbia, Montenegro, Albania, or Afghanistan), even if you don't have a power of attorney or other statement. Attach a signed statement to your return explaining that your spouse is serving in a combat zone. For more information on special tax rules for persons who are serving in a com- bat zone, or who are in missing status as a re- sult of serving in a combat zone, see Pub. 3, Armed Forces' Tax Guide.

Power of attorney. In order for you to sign a return for your spouse in any of these cases, you must attach to the return a power of attor- ney (POA) that authorizes you to sign for your spouse. You can use a POA that states that you have been granted authority to sign the return, or you can use Form 2848. Part I of Form 2848

Publication 501 (2021)

must state that you are granted authority to sign the return.

Nonresident alien or dual-status alien. Gen- erally, a married couple can't file a joint return if either one is a nonresident alien at any time during the tax year. However, if one spouse was a nonresident alien or dual-status alien who was married to a U.S. citizen or resident alien at the end of the year, the spouses can choose to file a joint return. If you do file a joint return, you and your spouse are both treated as U.S. residents for the entire tax year. See chap- ter 1 of Pub. 519.

Married Filing Separately

You can choose married filing separately as your filing status if you are married. This filing status may benefit you if you want to be respon- sible only for your own tax or if it results in less tax than filing a joint return.

If you and your spouse don't agree to file a joint return, you must use this filing status un- less you qualify for head of household status, discussed later.

You may be able to choose head of house- hold filing status if you are considered unmar- ried because you live apart from your spouse and meet certain tests (explained later, under Head of Household). This can apply to you even if you aren't divorced or legally separated. If you qualify to file as head of household, in- stead of as married filing separately, your tax may be lower, you may be able to claim certain tax benefits, and your standard deduction will be higher. The head of household filing status allows you to choose the standard deduction even if your spouse chooses to itemize deduc- tions. See Head of Household, later, for more information.

You will generally pay more combined TIP tax on separate returns than you would on a joint return for the reasons listed under Special Rules, later. However, unless

you are required to file separately, you should figure your tax both ways (on a joint return and on separate returns). This way you can make sure you are using the filing status that results in the lowest combined tax. When figuring the combined tax of a married couple, you may want to consider state taxes as well as federal taxes.

How to file. If you file a separate return, you generally report only your own income, credits, and deductions.

Select this filing status by checking the “Married filing separately” box on the Filing Sta- tus line at the top of Form 1040 or 1040-SR. En- ter your spouse's full name in the entry space at the bottom of the Filing Status section and enter your spouse's SSN or ITIN in the space for spouse's SSN on Form 1040 or 1040-SR. If your spouse doesn't have and isn't required to have an SSN or ITIN, enter “NRA” in the entry space below the filing status checkboxes. For electronic filing, enter the spouse's name or “NRA” if the spouse doesn't have an SSN or ITIN in the entry space below the filing status checkboxes. Use the Married filing separately

column of the Tax Table or Section C of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.

Special Rules

If you choose married filing separately as your filing status, the following special rules apply. Because of these special rules, you usually pay more tax on a separate return than if you use another filing status you qualify for.

1.Your tax rate is generally higher than on a joint return.

2.Your exemption amount for figuring the al- ternative minimum tax is half that allowed on a joint return.

3.You can't take the credit for child and de- pendent care expenses in most cases, and the amount you can exclude from in- come under an employer's dependent care assistance program is limited to $5,250 (instead of $10,500 on a joint re- turn). However, if you are legally separa- ted or living apart from your spouse, you may be able to file a separate return and still take the credit. See What’s Your Filing Status? in Pub. 503, Child and Dependent Care Expenses, for more information.

4.You can't take the earned income credit unless you meet certain other require- ments.

5.You can't take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most cases.

6.You can't take the education credits (the American opportunity credit and lifetime learning credit), or the deduction for stu- dent loan interest.

7.You can't exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds you used for higher education expenses.

8.If you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year:

a.You can't claim the credit for the eld- erly or the disabled, and

b.You must include in income a greater percentage (up to 85%) of any social security or equivalent railroad retire- ment benefits you received.

9.The following credits and deductions are reduced at income levels half those for a joint return:

a.The nonrefundable child tax credit, the credit for other dependents, and the refundable child tax credit; and

b.The retirement savings contributions credit.

10.Your capital loss deduction limit is $1,500 (instead of $3,000 on a joint return).

11.If your spouse itemizes deductions, you can't claim the standard deduction. If you can claim the standard deduction, your basic standard deduction is half the amount allowed on a joint return.

Page 7

There are special rules that allow a TIP separated spouse to claim the earned income credit under certain circum- stances. See the line 27a instructions in the In- structions for Form 1040 and Schedule EIC (Form 1040) to see if you meet the qualifica- tions to claim the earned income credit even though you are married filing a separate return.

Adjusted gross income (AGI) limits. If your AGI on a separate return is lower than it would have been on a joint return, you may be able to deduct a larger amount for certain deductions that are limited by AGI, such as medical expen- ses.

Individual retirement arrangements (IRAs). You may not be able to deduct all or part of your contributions to a traditional IRA if you or your spouse were covered by an employee retire- ment plan at work during the year. Your deduc- tion is reduced or eliminated if your income is more than a certain amount. This amount is much lower for married individuals who file sep- arately and lived together at any time during the year. For more information, see How Much Can You Deduct? in chapter 1 of Pub. 590-A.

Worksheet 1. Cost of Keeping Up a Home

Keep for Your Records

 

 

 

 

Amount You

 

 

 

Total

 

 

 

 

Paid

 

 

 

Cost

 

 

 

Property taxes

$

$

 

 

 

Mortgage interest expense

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Utility charges

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Repairs/maintenance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Property insurance

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food eaten in the home

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other household expenses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Totals

$

$

 

 

 

Minus total amount you paid

 

(

 

 

 

 

)

Amount others paid

 

 

$

 

 

 

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

Rental activity losses. If you actively partici- pated in a passive rental real estate activity that produced a loss, you can generally deduct the loss from your nonpassive income up to $25,000. This is called a special allowance. However, married persons filing separate re- turns who lived together at any time during the year can't claim this special allowance. Married persons filing separate returns who lived apart at all times during the year are each allowed a $12,500 maximum special allowance for losses from passive real estate activities. See Rental Activities in Pub. 925, Passive Activity and At-Risk Rules.

Community property states. Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. If you live in a community property state and file separately, your income may be considered separate in- come or community income for income tax pur- poses. See Pub. 555.

Joint Return After

Separate Returns

You can change your filing status from a sepa- rate return to a joint return by filing an amended return using Form 1040-X.

You can generally change to a joint return any time within 3 years from the due date of the separate return or returns. This doesn't include any extensions. A separate return includes a re- turn filed by you or your spouse claiming mar- ried filing separately, single, or head of house- hold filing status.

Separate Returns

After Joint Return

Once you file a joint return, you can't choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return.

Page 8

Exception. A personal representative for a de- cedent can change from a joint return elected by the surviving spouse to a separate return for the decedent. The personal representative has 1 year from the due date (including extensions) of the return to make the change. See Pub. 559 for more information on filing income tax returns for a decedent.

Head of Household

You may be able to file as head of household if you meet all the following requirements.

1.You are unmarried or considered unmar- ried on the last day of the year. See Mari- tal Status, earlier, and Considered Unmar- ried, later.

2.You paid more than half the cost of keep- ing up a home for the year.

3.A qualifying person 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. See Special rule for pa- rent, later, under Qualifying Person.

If you qualify to file as head of house- TIP hold, your tax rate will usually be lower than the rates for single or married fil- ing separately. You will also receive a higher

standard deduction than if you file as single or married filing separately.

How to file. Indicate your choice of this filing status by checking the “Head of household” box on the Filing Status line at the top of Form 1040 or 1040-SR. If the child who qualifies you for this filing status isn't claimed as your dependent in the Dependents section of Form 1040 or 1040-SR, enter the child's name in the entry space at the bottom of the Filing Status section. Use the Head of a household column of the Tax Table or Section D of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.

Considered Unmarried

To qualify for head of household status, you must be either unmarried or considered unmar- ried on the last day of the year. You are consid- ered unmarried on the last day of the tax year if you meet all the following tests.

1.You file a separate return. A separate re- turn includes a return claiming married fil- ing separately, single, or head of house- hold filing status.

2.You paid more than half the cost of keep- ing up your home for the tax year.

3.Your spouse didn't live in your home dur- ing the last 6 months of the tax year. Your spouse is considered to live in your home even if he or she is temporarily absent due to special circumstances. See Temporary absences, later.

4.Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year. (See Home of qualifying person, later, for rules applying to a child's birth, death, or temporary absence during the year.)

5.You must be able to claim the child as a dependent. However, you meet this test if you can't claim the child as a dependent only because the noncustodial parent can claim the child using the rules described, later, in Children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) under Qualifying Child or in Support Test for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents (or Parents Who Live Apart) under Qualify- ing Relative. The general rules for claiming a child as a dependent are explained, later, under Dependents.

Publication 501 (2021)

If you were considered married for part

!of the year and lived in a community CAUTION property state (listed, earlier, under Married Filing Separately), special rules may apply in determining your income and expen- ses. See Pub. 555 for more information.

Nonresident alien spouse. You are consid- ered unmarried for head of household purposes if your spouse was a nonresident alien at any time during the year and you don't choose to treat your nonresident spouse as a resident alien. However, your spouse isn't a qualifying person for head of household purposes. You must have another qualifying person and meet the other tests to be eligible to file as head of household.

Choice to treat spouse as resident. You are considered married if you choose to treat your spouse as a resident alien. See chapter 1 of Pub. 519.

Keeping Up a Home

To qualify for head of household status, you must pay more than half of the cost of keeping up a home for the year. You can determine whether you paid more than half of the cost of keeping up a home by using Worksheet 1.

Costs you include. Include in the cost of keeping up a home expenses such as rent, mortgage interest, real estate taxes, insurance on the home, repairs, utilities, and food eaten in the home.

Costs you don't include. Don't include the cost of clothing, education, medical treatment, vacations, life insurance, or transportation. Also don't include the value of your services or those of a member of your household.

Qualifying Person

See Table 4 to see who is a qualifying person. Any person not described in Table 4 isn't a qualifying person.

Example 1—child. Your unmarried son lived with you all year and was 18 years old at the end of the year. He didn't provide more than half of his own support and doesn't meet the tests to be a qualifying child of anyone else. As a result, he is your qualifying child (see Qualify- ing Child, later) and, because he is single, your qualifying person for head of household purpo- ses.

Example 2—child who isn't qualifying person. The facts are the same as in Exam- ple 1 except your son was 25 years old at the end of the year and his gross income was $5,000. Because he doesn't meet the age test (explained, later, under Qualifying Child), your son isn't your qualifying child. Because he doesn't meet the gross income test (explained, later, under Qualifying Relative), he isn't your qualifying relative. As a result, he isn't your qualifying person for head of household purpo- ses.

Publication 501 (2021)

Example 3—girlfriend. Your girlfriend lived with you all year. Even though she may be your qualifying relative if the gross income and support tests (explained later) are met, she isn't your qualifying person for head of household purposes because she isn't related to you in one of the ways listed under Relatives who don't have to live with you. See Table 4.

Example 4—girlfriend's child. The facts are the same as in Example 3 except your girl- friend's 10-year-old son also lived with you all year. He isn't your qualifying child and, because he is your girlfriend's qualifying child, he isn't your qualifying relative (see Not a Qualifying Child Test, later). As a result, he isn't your quali- fying person for head of household purposes.

Home of qualifying person. Generally, the qualifying person must live with you for more than half of the year.

Special rule for parent. If your qualifying person is your father or mother, you may be eli- gible to file as head of household even if your father or mother doesn't live with you. However, you must be able to claim your father or mother as a dependent. Also, you must pay more than half the cost of keeping up a home that was the main home for the entire year for your father or mother.

If you pay more than half the cost of keeping your parent in a rest home or home for the eld- erly, that counts as paying more than half the cost of keeping up your parent's main home.

Death or birth. You may be eligible to file as head of household even if the qualifying per- son who qualifies you for this filing status is born or dies during the year. To qualify you for head of household filing status, the qualifying person (as defined in Table 4) must be one of the following.

Your qualifying child or qualifying relative who lived with you for more than half the part of the year he or she was alive.

Your parent for whom you paid, for the en- tire part of the year he or she was alive, more than half the cost of keeping up the home he or she lived in.

Example. You are unmarried. Your mother, who you claim as a dependent, lived in an apartment by herself. She died on September

2.The cost of the upkeep of her apartment for the year until her death was $6,000. You paid $4,000 and your brother paid $2,000. Your brother made no other payments toward your mother's support. Your mother had no income. Because you paid more than half of the cost of keeping up your mother's apartment from Janu- ary 1 until her death, and you can claim her as a dependent, you can file as head of household.

Temporary absences. You and your quali- fying person are considered to live together even if one or both of you are temporarily ab- sent from your home due to special circumstan- ces such as illness, education, business, vaca- tion, military service, or detention in a juvenile facility. It must be reasonable to assume the ab- sent person will return to the home after the temporary absence. You must continue to keep up the home during the absence.

Adopted child or foster child. You may be eligible to file as head of household if the person who qualifies you for this filing status was an adopted child or foster child and you kept up a home for this person in 2021, the per- son was lawfully placed with you for legal adop- tion by you in 2021, or the person was an eligi- ble foster child placed with you during 2021. The person is considered to have lived with you for more than half of 2021 if your main home was this person's main home for more than half the time since he or she was adopted or placed with you in 2021.

Kidnapped child. You may be eligible to file as head of household even if the child who is your qualifying person has been kidnapped. You can claim head of household filing status if all the following statements are true.

1.The child is presumed by law enforcement authorities to have been kidnapped by someone who isn't a member of your fam- ily or the child's family.

2.In the year of the kidnapping, the child lived with you for more than half the part of the year before the kidnapping.

3.In the year of the child’s return, the child lived with you for more than half the part of the year following the date of the child’s return.

4.You would have qualified for head of household filing status if the child hadn't been kidnapped.

This treatment applies for all years until the earlier of:

1.The year there is a determination that the child is dead, or

2.The year the child would have reached age 18.

Qualifying Widow(er)

If your spouse died in 2021, you can use mar- ried filing jointly as your filing status for 2021 if you otherwise qualify to use that status. The year of death is the last year for which you can file jointly with your deceased spouse. See Mar- ried Filing Jointly, earlier.

You may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) as your filing status for 2 years fol- lowing the year your spouse died. For example, if your spouse died in 2020 and you haven't re- married, you may be able to use this filing sta- tus for 2021 and 2022. The rules for using this filing status are explained in detail here.

This filing status entitles you to use joint re- turn tax rates and the highest standard deduc- tion amount (if you don't itemize deductions). It doesn't entitle you to file a joint return.

How to file. Indicate your choice of this filing status by checking the “Qualifying widow(er)” box on the Filing Status line at the top of Form 1040 or 1040-SR. If the child who qualifies you for this filing status isn’t claimed as your de- pendent in the Dependents section of Form 1040 or 1040-SR, enter the child’s name in the entry space at the bottom of the Filing Status

Page 9

Table 4. Who Is a Qualifying Person Qualifying You To File as Head of Household?1

!See the text of this publication for the other requirements you must meet to claim head of household filing status.

CAUTION

IF the person is your . . .

 

AND . . .

 

THEN that person is . . .

qualifying child (such as a son, daughter,

 

he or she is single

 

a qualifying person, whether or not

or grandchild who lived with you more than

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the child meets the Citizen or

half the year and meets certain other tests)2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Resident Test.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

he or she is married and you can claim him

 

a qualifying person.

 

 

or her as a dependent

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

he or she is married and you can't claim him

 

not a qualifying person.3

 

 

or her as a dependent

 

 

 

 

 

qualifying relative4 who is your father or

 

you can claim him or her as a dependent5

 

a qualifying person.6

mother

 

you can't claim him or her as a dependent

 

not a qualifying person.

qualifying relative4 other than your father or

 

he or she lived with you more than half the

 

a qualifying person.

mother (such as a grandparent, brother, or

 

year, and he or she is related to you in one

 

 

 

 

 

sister who meets certain tests)

 

of the ways listed under Relatives who don't

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

have to live with you, later, and you can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

claim him or her as a dependent5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

he or she didn't live with you more than half

 

not a qualifying person.

 

 

the year

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

he or she isn't related to you in one of the

 

not a qualifying person.

 

 

ways listed under Relatives who don't have

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to live with you, later, and is your qualifying

 

 

 

 

 

 

relative only

because he or she lived with

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you all year as a member of your household

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

you can't claim him or her as a dependent

 

not a qualifying person.

1A person can't qualify more than one taxpayer to use the head of household filing status for the year.

2The term qualifying child is defined under Dependents, later. Note: If you are a noncustodial parent, the term “qualifying child” for head of household filing status doesn't include a child who is your qualifying child only because of the rules described under Children of divorced or separated parents (or parents who live apart) under Qualifying Child, later. If you are the custodial parent and those rules apply, the child is generally your qualifying child for head of household filing status even though the child isn't a qualifying child you can claim as a dependent.

3This person is a qualifying person if the only reason you can't claim the person as a dependent is that you, or your spouse if filing jointly, can be claimed as a dependent on another taxpayer's return.

4The term qualifying relative is defined under Dependents, later.

5If you can claim a person as a dependent only because of a multiple support agreement, that person isn't a qualifying person. See Multiple Support Agreement.

6See Special rule for parent.

section. Use the Married filing jointly column of

 

b. The child filed a joint return, or

 

Up a Home, earlier, under Head of House-

the Tax Table or Section B of the Tax Computa-

 

c. You could be claimed as a dependent

 

hold.

 

tion Worksheet to figure your tax.

 

 

 

 

 

on someone else’s return.

Example. John's wife died in 2019. John

Eligibility rules. You are eligible to file your

 

 

If the child isn’t claimed as your de-

hasn't remarried. He has continued during 2020

2021 return as a qualifying widow(er) if you

 

pendent in the Dependents section on

and 2021 to keep up a home for himself and his

meet all the following tests.

 

Form 1040 or 1040-SR, enter the child’s

child who lives with him and who he can claim

1. You were entitled to file a joint return with

 

name in the entry space at the bottom of

as a dependent. For 2019, he was entitled to

your spouse for the year your spouse died.

 

the Filing Status section. If you don’t enter

file a joint return for himself and his deceased

It doesn't matter whether you actually filed

 

the name, it will take us longer to process

wife. For 2020 and 2021, he can file as a quali-

a joint return.

 

your return.

fying widower. After 2021, he can file as head of

2. Your spouse died in 2019 or 2020 and you

4. This child lived in your home all year, ex-

household if he qualifies.

didn't remarry before the end of 2021.

 

cept for temporary absences. See

Tempo-

 

Death or birth. You may be eligible to file as a

 

 

3. You have a child or stepchild (not a foster

 

rary absences

, earlier, under Head of

qualifying widow(er) if the child who qualifies

 

Household. There are also exceptions, de-

you for this filing status is born or dies during

child) whom you can claim as a dependent

 

scribed later, for a child who was born or

the year. You must have provided more than

or could claim as a dependent except that,

 

died during the year and for a kidnapped

half of the cost of keeping up a home that was

for 2021:

 

child.

the child's main home during the entire part of

a. The child had gross income of $4,300

5. You paid more than half the cost of keep-

the year he or she was alive.

or more,

 

ing up a home for the year. See Keeping

 

 

 

Page 10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Publication 501 (2021)

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