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Tax filer status

Codes and Frequencies

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FILESTAT reports the federal income tax filing status (single, married filing jointly, head of household, and non-filer) for individuals. For joint filers, the response categories are further determined by age (over 65 years of age, or younger than 65, for one or both of the filers).

Under IRS rules, an individual's tax filing status is partly determined by marital status on the last day of the year. Unmarried persons and those who are legally separated or divorced, and who do not qualify for another filing status, must file as single. With a few exceptions (i.e., those who were still married but who lived apart from their spouse for at least half the year), head of household filing status is reserved for persons who were not married and who paid for over half the cost of maintaining a home that also housed a dependent unmarried child, grandchild, or dependent parent. Users should note that the "head of household" value for FILESTAT is not synonymous with identification as the household reference person in the RELATE (Relationship to head of household) variable.

FILESTAT, like other tax-related variables included in the ASEC CPS (ADJGINC, CAPGAIN, CAPLOSS, EITCRED, FEDRETIR, FEDTAX, FICA, MARGTAX, STATETAX, TAXINC, and household level variable PROPTAX) was not determined by direct questioning of respondents. Rather, values for these variables come from the Census Bureau's tax model, which simulates individual tax returns to produce estimates of federal, state, and payroll taxes. The model incorporates information from non-CPS sources, such as the Internal Revenue Service's Statistics of Income series, the American Housing Survey, and the State Tax Handbook. For more information about the model, see Current Population Reports, Series P60-18RD. The IPUMS-CPS staff welcomes further information from users about the interpretation of this variable or other tax-related variables in the ASEC CPS.

To understand more about the census tax model and the construction and assumption of tax variables, please see this paper


FILESTAT is largely comparable over time. Comparability may, however, be limited by changes in the Census Bureau's tax model, such as the implementation of a new model to produce tax estimates in 2004.


  • All persons.


Years Jan Feb ASEC Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1992 – 2023 - - X - - - - - - - - -


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Unharmonized Variables