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Publication 17

Qualifying Widow(er)
With Dependent Child(p23)

If your spouse died in 2012, you can use married filing jointly as your filing status for 2012 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 Married Filing Jointly, earlier.
You may be eligible to use qualifying widow(er) with dependent child as your filing status for 2 years following the year your spouse died. For example, if your spouse died in 2011, and you have not remarried, you may be able to use this filing status for 2012 and 2013.
This filing status entitles you to use joint return tax rates and the highest standard deduction amount (if you do not itemize deductions). It does not entitle you to file a joint return.

How to file.(p23)

If you file as qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, you can use either Form 1040A or Form 1040. Indicate your filing status by checking the box on line 5 of either form. Use the Married filing jointly column of the Tax Table or Section B of the Tax Computation Worksheet to figure your tax.

Eligibility rules.(p23)

You are eligible to file your 2012 return as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child if you meet all of the following tests.


John Reed's wife died in 2010. John has not remarried. During 2011 and 2012, he continued to keep up a home for himself and his child, who lives with him and for whom he can claim an exemption. For 2010 he was entitled to file a joint return for himself and his deceased wife. For 2011 and 2012, he can file as qualifying widower with a dependent child. After 2012 he can file as head of household if he qualifies.

Death or birth.(p24)

You may be eligible to file as a qualifying widow(er) with dependent child if the child who qualifies you for this filing status is born or dies during the year. You must have provided more than half of the cost of keeping up a home that was the child's main home during the entire part of the year he or she was alive.

Kidnapped child.(p24)

A child may qualify you for qualifying widow(er) with dependent child, even if the child has been kidnapped. See Publication 501.
As mentioned earlier, this filing status is available for only 2 years following the year your spouse died.