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Filing Status

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Step: 
Step 2
Step Subject: 
Filing Status
Year: 
2016

Your filing status on the Iowa return is usually the same filing status as on your federal return. However, married taxpayers have the option of either filing jointly (status 2), married filing separately on a combined return (status 3) or married filing separate returns (status 4) on the Iowa return, no matter how they filed on the federal return.

If you and your spouse both have income, you may pay less tax by filing status 3 or 4.

Status 1. Single

Check filing status 1 if you were unmarried, divorced, or legally separated on December 31, 2015, and do not meet the requirements for any other filing status. All single filers must answer the question, "Were you claimed as a dependent on another person's Iowa return?"

If this question is not answered, you will be taxed as a dependent.

Status 2. Married Filing Joint Return

Check filing status 2 if you are married and want to report your income, deductions, and exemptions together in one column. Both spouses must sign the return.

If married taxpayers file a joint return

Both spouses are jointly and severally liable for the total tax due on the return, except when one spouse is considered to be an innocent spouse under criteria established pursuant to section 6015 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Please note:

a. You must have been married on December 31, 2016, or
b. If your spouse died during 2016 and you did not remarry during the year, you may file status 2, 3, or 4.

Nonresidents and Part-Year Residents of Iowa...

...who are married may file status 2, 3, or 4 for their Iowa return even if only one spouse had income from Iowa sources.

Does your spouse have debts...

...that may be automatically paid (offset) with your refund? Be sure to read our Refunds May Be Used to Pay Debt information.

Status 3. Married Filing Separately on Combined Return

Check filing status 3 if you are married and want to file separately on one return. If you receive a refund, it will be made payable to both spouses. Both spouses must sign the return.

If married taxpayers file separately on a combined return

Both spouses are jointly and severally liable for the total tax due on the return, except when one spouse is considered to be an innocent spouse under criteria established pursuant to section 6015 of the Internal Revenue Code.

Does your spouse have debts...

...that may be automatically paid (offset) with your refund? Be sure to read our Refunds May Be Used to Pay Debt information.

Taxpayers using filing status 3 or 4 may have to prorate (divide) certain items between them on the return. These items include federal income tax refunds, additional federal income tax paid, etc. This information is included with instructions for most lines of the return.

Nonresidents and Part-Year Residents of Iowa...

...who are married may file status 2, 3, or 4 for their Iowa return even if only one spouse had income from Iowa sources.

Status 4. Married Filing Separate Returns

Check filing status 4 if you and your spouse file separate tax returns. Write your spouse's Social Security Number, name, and net income in the spaces provided at the top of the return in Step 2. The processing of refunds, alternate tax calculations, and/or low-income exemptions will be delayed without this information or supporting schedules.

Taxpayers using filing status 3 or 4 may have to prorate (divide) certain items between them on the return. These items include federal income tax refunds, additional federal income tax paid, etc. This information is included with instructions for each line of the return.

Nonresidents and Part-Year Residents of Iowa...

... who are married may file status 2, 3, or 4 for their Iowa return even if only one spouse had income from Iowa sources.

Married Separate Filers:

Married taxpayers filing married filing status 3 or 4 must use the combined income of both spouses in determining eligibility for exemption from tax.

If either spouse has a net operating loss that is carried back or forward, then the other spouse cannot use the low income exemption. If the spouse with the net operating loss chooses not to carry the loss back or forward, then the other can claim the low income exemption. A statement must be attached to the return saying that the spouse with the net operating loss will not carry it back or forward.

If one spouse itemizes deductions, then both spouses must itemize deductions, even if separate Iowa returns are filed.

Status 5. Head of Household

Check filing status 5 if you are filing as head of household for federal income tax purposes. If you have a qualifying person (as defined by the Internal Revenue Service) living with you who you did not claim as a dependent on this return, enter the person's name and Social Security Number. If you are filing as a qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child for federal income tax purposes, you cannot file as head of household on your Iowa return.

Status 6. Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child 

Check filing status 6 if you meet the federal filing requirements for qualifying widow(er).