3 min read

Navigating Tax Filing as an Unmarried Couple with a Child


Content provided for general information. Talk to your advisor to learn about recent updates or other rules that may apply to your situation.

Filing taxes can be a daunting task, especially when you're in a unique situation like being an unmarried couple with a child. The decisions you make about how to file your taxes can significantly impact your returns, and it's crucial to consider your specific circumstances. While I'm not a tax professional or advisor, I can provide some insights into your situation and offer general guidance that might help you make an informed decision.

Understanding Your Filing Options

When it comes to filing taxes, the IRS provides several filing status options. In your case, the main choices are "Single," "Head of Household," or "Married Filing Jointly." Here's a brief overview of these options:

  1. Single: If you're not married, you can each choose to file as "Single." However, this may not be the most advantageous choice for your situation, as you could potentially miss out on certain tax benefits.
  2. Head of Household: This status is typically more favorable for unmarried couples with dependents. To qualify for Head of Household status, you must meet certain criteria, such as paying more than half of the household expenses and living apart for the last six months of the year. In this case, only one of you can claim the Head of Household status, and the other would need to file as "Single."
  3. Married Filing Jointly: If you decide to get married before the end of the tax year, you can file jointly, which often offers tax advantages. Keep in mind that the decision to marry should not be solely for tax purposes; it should reflect your commitment and life goals as a couple.

Tax Benefits for Parents

Given that you have a child, it's essential to consider tax credits and deductions available to parents. Here are some key ones to be aware of:

  1. Child Tax Credit: This credit provides significant tax savings for families with children. In 2022, it allows eligible parents to claim up to $3,600 per child, subject to income limitations.
  2. Child and Dependent Care Credit: If you pay for childcare to work or look for work, you may qualify for this credit, which can help offset some of the childcare expenses.
  3. Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC): This credit is designed to assist low to moderate-income working individuals and families. It can be especially beneficial for unmarried couples with children.
  4. Dependency Exemption: The person who claims the child as a dependent can generally qualify for an exemption that reduces their taxable income.

Considering Your Specific Situation

In your situation, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. If you're living together and sharing household expenses, it may be difficult for both of you to claim the "Head of Household" status since it typically requires living apart.
  2. If you are planning to get married soon, it might be worth considering the tax implications of getting married before the end of the year. Married couples often enjoy certain tax benefits, but this decision should be based on your relationship and life goals, not just for tax purposes.
  3. You should consult a tax professional or advisor to assess your specific financial situation. They can help you maximize your tax benefits while ensuring you comply with tax laws and regulations.

The Importance of Professional Guidance

When it comes to making decisions about tax filing, it's crucial to consult with a qualified tax professional or advisor. They have the expertise and experience to analyze your unique financial situation and provide tailored advice that can help you obtain the maximum returns benefit possible. Tax laws are complex, and they can change from year to year, so seeking professional guidance will ensure you make informed choices and remain in compliance with tax regulations.

In summary, your situation as an unmarried couple with a child may offer several tax benefits, but the best approach depends on various factors. It's advisable to consult with a tax professional or advisor who can assess your specific circumstances and guide you toward the most advantageous filing status and strategy for your family. Remember that the decision to get married should not be solely based on tax considerations but should reflect your personal goals and commitment as a couple.