You May Be Able to File Separately on your Taxes
Sometimes, a married person files independent of his or her spouse and therefore files as "married filing separately." Filing separately becomes more complicated, depending upon whether a person lives in a common law (generally equitable distribution) state or in a community property state, and many couples do not do it because "[m]arried filing separately typically results in the highest possible combined total tax." In community property states, (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and, by election of the spouses, Alaska), the division of income and expenses is governed by special rules because in these states each spouse has a claim on the other’s income.


Spouses who have been divorced or are legally separated are single taxpayers. Some divorcing couples file as head of household, and it can save money. A currently married person may be deemed unmarried. This filing status was originally meant for single people, but some people in the middle of a divorce qualify. To do so, a person must have lived apart from his or her spouse for the last six months of the tax year; paid over half the cost of keeping up a main residence; and be able to claim, under the rules for children of divorced or separated parents, a child as a dependent. In addition, he or she must file a separate tax return from the spouse, even if still legally married.

In general, most separated spouses file jointly for the last year they are married because it is financially to their advantage to do so, so people who are willing to fill out an estranged mate's IRS forms, should go ahead and check the married box.



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