When you are legally married is it possible to file your taxes as a single taxpayer?
A married taxpayer can always use the filing status of “married filing separately” however it is not as beneficial as using the status of “single.”
In the case of a married couple that is separated but the divorce decree or separate maintenance has not yet been finalized that couple is still considered married in the eyes of the law and tax law follows state law on this matter. Couples in this position can still file “jointly” but this may not be the most practical decision based on the nature of the separation.
Even if you are married (you will not have to use the “married filing separately” filing status) you can still file as “single” if you meet the following criteria:
- For more than half the year you maintain as your home a household which for more than half the year is the principal living place of a child of yours whom you can claim as your dependent. (Or could have claimed as your dependent except that you signed away your right to the exemption to the child’s other parent).
- You supply more than half of the cost of maintaining that home which includes all house-related costs plus the cost of food consumed in the home.
- Your spouse cannot have been a member of the household for the last six months of the year.
Keep in mind that if each of the separated spouses meets these tests (i.e. they have more than one child and each has custody of a child) both parties can qualify to file as single. If only one meets the tests then the other non-qualifying spouse will have to file as married filing separately.
At Lindemeyer CPA we help clear up any uncertainty about which tax filing category will be most beneficial to you. Click here for an initial consult so you can get your tax questions answered and head in the right direction financially this year. Lindemeyer is always here to help.