NO. If you file married filing separately neither one of you gets the childcare credit. Why do you want to file separate returns?
If you are legally married at the end of 2019 your filing choices are married filing jointly or married filing separately.
Married Filing Jointly is usually better, even if one spouse had little or no income. When you file a joint return, you and your spouse will get the married filing jointly standard deduction of $24,400 (+$1300 for each spouse 65 or older) You are eligible for more credits including education credits, earned income credit, child and dependent care credit, and a larger income limit to receive the child tax credit.
If you choose to file married filing separately, both spouses have to file the same way—either you both itemize or you both use standard deduction. Your tax rate will be higher than on a joint return. Some of the special rules for filing separately include: you cannot get earned income credit, education credits, adoption credits, or deductions for student loan interest. A higher percent of your Social Security benefits may be taxable. Your limit for SALT (state and local taxes and sales tax) will be only $5000 per spouse. In many cases you will not be able to take the child and dependent care credit. The amount you can contribute to a retirement account will be affected. If you live in a community property state, you will be required to provide additional information regarding your spouse’s income. ( Community property states: AZ, CA, ID, LA, NV, NM, TX, WA, WI)
If you are using online TurboTax to prepare your returns, you will need to prepare two separate returns and pay twice.
And I should add--if you file separately then only one of you can claim your child. You lose the child-related credits like earned income credit and childcare credit when you file MFS, and you have a lower income for the child tax credit.
Thank you for the detailed answer. I understand the loss of certain credits when MFS but was looking for information on a dependent care FSA (reimbursement) account. I have seen information published that the limit is $5000 for married filing jointly and $2500 for married filing separate but cannot find clarification on whether both parents can have an FSA for $2500 or only one. We both contribute equally to dependent care and expenses
@lisa-leverenz Your hope to file MFS and each have $2500 of FSA $ toward child care does not take into consideration the fact that one of you will not be able to claim the child--and if you cannot claim a child the $2500 just becomes taxable income.
Our reasons for filing separate vs joint are not the purpose of this question, so no need to comment on this aspect. Was simply looking for clarification regarding the total dependent care reimbursement.
Ok ... you may each put $2500 in the FSA ... HOWEVER it is a waste since neither of you can claim the credit if you insist on filing separately and the $2500 each will simply be added back into your income on the separate returns ... so in the end you gain nothing by making the contributions.