Qualifying Widow or Widower
What it is:
A qualifying widow or widower is a person who can still file as married filing jointly for tax purposes.
How it works/Example:
Let's say John and Jane Doe have been married for 40 years. John is diagnosed with terminal cancer and dies a taxpayer. However, the IRS allows her to apply the tax rates as if she were married filing jointly for the next two because she is a qualifying widow. However, Jane cannot continue to claim an exemption for John.
Jane also has to be a mother supporting a dependent child in her home in order to qualify. If she remarries before the two-year period ends, she loses her status as a qualifying widow.