Symmetry PAYROLL Forms
Payroll Taxes
Payroll Talk
Payroll Goddess
Premiere Payroll Tax Research Library

Filing Status


An employee is considered single if:

  • legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, or
  • either he or his spouse was a non-resident alien on any preceding day within the calendar year.

The death of a spouse does not necessarily qualify the employee for single status.


Married employees must indicate their status on Form W-4 (Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate) to take advantage of the lower withholding afforded married employees. (See W-4 Marital Status for eligibility.) If the Form W-4 fails to show that an employee is married, the employer must withhold according to the single employee tables.

An employee whose spouse has died during the year may continue to claim married status for that year. An employee whose spouse died in either of the two preceding taxable years may claim married status if:

  • the employee's home is maintained as the main household of a child or stepchild for whom the employee can claim an exemption, and
  • the employee could file a joint return with his spouse in the year of the spouse's death.

Married, but withhold at higher single rate

Married couples with both spouses employed or a married employee with more than one employer may elect to have his federal withholding computed at the single rate to increase the amount of income tax withheld.

Head of household

An employee may claim head of household status on his or her federal individual income tax return only if he or she is unmarried and pays more than 50% of the cost of keeping up a home for himself or herself and one or more of his or her dependents or other qualifying individual. Persons claiming head of household status are to complete Form W-4 as "single." is a free online resource featuring a compilation of research, collaboration and web tools for use by payroll professionals and more including information about payroll tax articles, federal tax information and state tax information.

Helpful Hint... Anytime you move or have a major life change (for example - marriage, divorce, birth of a child, etc.) always be sure to complete a new W-4!