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Level 1

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

My husband and I filed separately, thinking it would be easier. Now we will be amending our filings. For the amended filing, do we enter each other's information on BOTH returns?
11 Replies
Level 11

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

No.  You just pick 1 separate return (probably his) and only amend it to change it to Joint by adding all the other spouse's info to it.  Just forget about the other person's separate return.

How to Amend MFS to Joint  -OR - Joint to Separate (before April 15)
https://ttlc.intuit.com/replies/3300283
Level 1

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

My husband's is more complicated so we will be amending that one. He has already paid his taxes. I assume the IRS will issue a refund for the taxes paid once they process the amendment, correct?

I efiled mine and it has been accepted. I am entitled to a refund. I don't really know what to do with mine now. Can I just cancel my return through TurboTax? OR should a amend mine some how and send it in with my husbands? OR do I do nothing?
Level 11

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

No you can't cancel yours.  And you will still get the refund on your return.  Read that FAQ I posted about how to enter your original refund.  And you don't do anything more with "your" return.  Just ignore it.  

When you go though the Amended return you need to enter his tax due paid and your refund then the amended return will only be for the difference you still owe or get back.

What version did your husband use to do his separate return?  You can call support and ask them to give you the Desktop CD/Download program so you can amend his return properly as stated in that FAQ above.

Contact Customer Service
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Level 8

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

What if only one of the spouses has filed their separate return so far?  Does the second spouse still have to a separate return (even though it will be later disregarded) before filing the amended return on one of them to change the filing status to married filing jointly?  Or, can the one return that was filed be amended immediately to convert to married filing jointly, and in so doing satisfy the other spouse's filing requirement?
Level 11

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

No you don’t file the other separate return.  Just amend the return that was filed to Joint and add the other spouse to it.
Level 8

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

I did just that, just filed the amended return to change filing status from married filing separately to married filing jointly, acknowledged as received on Jan. 15 by IRS.

Now over 16 weeks later, return still has not been processed by IRS. Amazingly, IRS representatives have no way to check up on the amended return further, and they are advising that it might be lost and to send it in again to normal filing address and wait another 16 weeks for a perhaps different result. That's not very definitive, and having the same amend return processed twice might be bad, so I've instead asked for a Congressional inquiry as to the return's disposition before sending the amended return in again.

It's a bit strange in my case, as filing separately would result in a balance due and late filing penalty plus penalty and interest on the amount due, but filing jointly results in a very large refund! So, by skipping the separate filing step, I am also dodging penalties, and I can see how they might not like that! In fact, even if money were owed on the joint return, it's not clear to me if the late filing penalty would apply on the added spouse somehow if the original separate return was filing timely, as amended returns are handled by IRS as a request for an adjustment to a previously filed return and not as a new return.
Level 20

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

What do you mean you just filed an amended return? An amended return cannot be e-file so when did you print, ink sign and mail the return in? If you have not mailed the return in then no amended return was filed.
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Level 8

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

Just an update on my earlier post two above.. "Now over 16 weeks later, return still has not been processed by IRS..."

 

I requested my member of Congress to inquire as to the status of the unprocessed return.  They submitted the inquiry to the IRS Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) to handle.  Nearly 4 weeks later, still nothing.  I called the Congressman's office again for them to follow-up.  Pretty much immediately after that, the return was processed! 

 

My account record indicates that the return was adjusted on July 3 and refund issued (check received July 5), and the adjustment notice is scheduled to be sent on July 15 (exactly 6 months from when they acknowledge receiving the amended return).  The return itself was never lost and did not need to be resubmitted (which surely would have messed things up!), IRS simply was ignoring it.  IRS customer service operators really were wrong by advising that I simply re-file the return - don't do it until there confirmation it is lost and unrecoverable (highly unlikely).  There also was a hefty interest payment that IRS had to include with the tax refund; literally, every day they delayed processing the amended return was actually costing them at the high interest rates which they normally charge delinquent taxpayers!

 

As far as the refund itself, it is off by $1 from what was requested on the Form 1040-X.  Reviewing the account transcript, I know exactly where the discrepancy comes from, and it is not in the tax calculation like you would think, but rather a rounding error (or mis-key) on one of the refundable tax credit forms!  I might indulge myself to dispute the refund amount on the adjustment notice when I get it (just for thrills), as the error is a simple $0.50 that is supposed to round up and not down!

Level 8

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

One other thing to add, if both spouses did not both file a married filing separately return before submitting the amended return to change the filing status to married filing jointly, then after the adjustment is made, that one original return with its original numbers becomes associated with both spouses on the tax return transcripts afterwards.  That could be a problem if return transcripts are needed for income verification. 

 

So, while the original advice here that a second MFS return is not needed before amending to MFJ is correct and true, it may be in your best interest to do so any way, if you want your tax record complete.  Also, I suspect the IRS examiner would have preferred this in my case and might not have delayed the return, as original return processing is automated while amended return processing is manual.  Doing so probably saves them a lot of work!

Level 20

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

OK ... from what you said only one of you filed your return  so only that return should have been amended.   No matter how much you think the other person has to amend they CANNOT since they never filed an original return to begin with and since they are now included on the amended return they are considered filed and any return you send in now will be dumped in the trash.  And of course that filed return will be in their tax files at the IRS just the same as the other spouse ... that is the norm when you file jointly ... the same return is registered under both taxpayers.  So don't waste your time or the IRS's.  Check your transcripts in a few months to see if the amended return has made it to both accounts.

Level 8

Amending separate returns to a joint filing status

Critter - I think you mis-understand.  Tax return transcripts always only reflect the information provided on the originally filed return.  Amended returns are simply processed as adjustments to the originally processed return on the account transcript, they don't actually change the return in any way.  This is true even when amending from a sepate return to a joint return, which I wasn't sure about.  I did not file a separate return before amending to a joint return because I would have owed interest, penalty, and late filing penalty as opposed to just amending the spouse's separate return to be a joint return and get a refund, and that did work! (but they surely did begrudge me for it!)

 

What I was reporting is that when amending a return from separate to joint, and the other spouse never filed, IRS associates the one separate return being amended as the originally filed return with the non-filing spouse.  I guess that is necessary and sufficient to mark them as filed on IRS systems, but it still isn't their separate return and doesn't show their name, income, or taxes at all!  Kind of weird seeing spouse's MFS return as my MFS return also, and certainly could cause great confusion if I needed to give a tax return transcript for income verification, but that's the way they do it in this case.