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Last Updated: 11/30/2015

Filing Status for Individuals

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Your filing status is used to determine your filing requirements, standard deduction, eligibility for certain credits and deductions, and your correct tax.

You must use the same filing status on your state income tax return as on your federal return. View the statute, M.S. 289A.08. The options are:

  • Single (S)
  • Head of Household (H of H)
  • Married Filing Jointly (MFJ)
  • Married Filing Separately (MFS)
  • Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child (QW)

Consider your tax situation before you select a filing status. While the IRS sets the rules, the filing status you choose can affect your state return. For example, taxpayers who choose Married Filing Separately can’t claim the following Minnesota credits:

  • Child and Dependent Care Credit
  • Working Family Credit
  • K-12 Education Credit

For more information on filing status, see IRS Publication 501.

Minnesota Laws May Affect Your Filing Status and Federal Return

State laws can affect your filing status, how income is reported, and who can be claimed as a dependent. Some of these issues are discussed below.

Married in Minnesota

For a marriage to be valid in Minnesota, the couple must get a license and certificate. Two witnesses and someone authorized to solemnize the marriage must also be present. View the statute, M.S. 517.18.

The following groups may use their traditional form and custom to solemnize a marriage, though a marriage license and certificate are still required:

Quaker (also called Friends) 
American Indian

Married Before Coming to Minnesota

If a couple is married outside the state, Minnesota will recognize the marriage if it was valid at the time of the contract – or validated by later law changes – in the place where the marriage occurred.

Legal Separation

Minnesota recognizes legal separation. A legal separation is a court determination of the rights and responsibilities of the parties. It does not terminate the marriage. Only dissolution of marriage (divorce) ends the marriage. However, a married individual may file as single if they have a separate maintenance decree. View the statute, M.S. 518.06.

Note: Married couples always have the option to file joint or separate tax returns. They don’t need to be legally separated to select the Married Filing Separately filing status.

Common Law Marriages

Minnesota does not recognize common law marriages. Minnesotans living together cannot file joint state or federal returns. However, a couple recognized under a common law marriage in another state, who then move to Minnesota, may file as married while living in Minnesota. View the statute, M.S. 517.20.

Same-Sex Marriages

All married couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, are treated alike for tax purposes in Minnesota.  For more information see Same-Sex Marriage - Income Tax and Withholding Information.