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If I'm married, must I file as married?

If you were married on the last day of the year, you must file as either married filing jointly or married filing separately. However, if you can meet the following rules, you might be able to file as head of household:

  • You do not file a joint return.
  • You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.
  • Your spouse did not live with you for even one day in your home during the last 6 months of the tax year. The spouse is considered as living in the home even if temporarily absent because of special circumstances, such as illness or business.
  • Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, adopted child, or foster child for more than half the year.
  • You must be able to claim an exemption for the child, unless you cannot claim the exemption only because the non-custodial parent is allowed to claim the exemption.