I've read everywhere that a married couple should almost always file jointly. However, we have some uncommon situations which makes me think Separate is the way to go this year.
I can't find anywhere within TT to force it to filing separate. I want to see what the costs would be for each of us separate, and then to compare it to the joint.
Can this be done?
However, 96% of married couples file joint -
there are other threads detailing all the deductions and credits you lose if you file separate
Yes, I've been reading on that. One of use makes about double the other, and has many itemized deductions. The other is normal plain W2. The main reason we want to see if Separate filing helps is for the home office. Company makes him work at home, and that used to be a huge deduction, but no so much anymore. I want to see how the the separate filings impacts the standard deductions
You mentioned one of you having a home office. Be aware that job-related expenses including home office have been suspended as a deduction for W-2 employees on your federal return as a result of the new tax law, so that may be a non-issue in your choice of MFS vs.MFJ.
You cannot "force" separate returns using TurboTax. Switching to MFS is more complex than that. You have to create two separate returns in order to file as MFS--you cannot just change the filing status in My Info and get accurate results.
It is not easy to compare MFJ to MFS using online TT but you can do it. Since you only get one return for each account and user ID, you have to use 3 accounts and user ID’s—one for MFJ and two for each of the MFS returns. Compare, choose, and file—and pay—accordingly.
It is much easier to do this comparison using the desktop version of TT installed from a CD or downloaded to your own computer. You pay once for the software and you can prepare multiple returns easily, and it has a “what if” feature that allows comparisons.
If you were legally married at the end of 2018 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 $24,000 (+$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.
@XmasBaby, thank you very much. Good info.
Few years ago, my wife's company closed their physical offices and made everyone work form home. She is not W-2, but 100% of her work is done from home. A fairly big portion of apartment is devoted to her work space and supplies.
With our rent and insurance and home internet and other home office costs, it legitimately comes to about $19,000. With our other deductions and charities and education expenses, etc., we are over $24,000. My goal was to NOT take the standard $24,000 deduction, because our itemized deductions SHOULD allow us to deduct more.
It seems like the home office expenses are not factoring in, as you said.
So that's why I am looking into Married File Separate.
My thinking is that filing separate, my wife's standard deduction would be $12,000, and she has about $19,000 in itemized deductions. I figured the IRS would allow her to claim the $19,000 legitimate deductions instead of forcing her to take $12,000. But it seems my logic was off. The Home Office deduction doesn't apply to her at all any more. Seems like an unfortunate law for us.
Once you do that I suspect going the joint- married route will be more advantageous .
What educational costs do you have - those are not on Schedule A either .... if they are job requirements and not reimbursed, they are not deductible
Your situation is not uncommon....
Does she receive a w-2 or a 1099-misc?
Employees can no longer deduct Unreimbursed home expenses . So nothing on Schedule A permitted
Self- employed - those are schedule C deductions and are permitted
Which is it?