Sign Up

Why sign in to the Community?

  • Submit a question
  • Check your notifications
or and start working on your taxes
cancel
Showing results for 
Search instead for 
Did you mean: 
mantkeat
New Member

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

We are married with two children - we want to file separately - will one of us still qualify for the child tax credit?
17 Replies
Critter
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Of course if you don't live together at any time the last 6 months of the year then the answer can be different.
Critter
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Is it better for a married couple to file jointly or separately?

Generally, filing jointly will give you a bigger refund or less taxes due. When you file separately, your tax rate is higher and you won't be able to claim:

·         Education benefits

·         Earned Income Credit (EIC)

·         Child and Dependent Care Credit (usually)

·         Adoption Credit (usually)

·         The same benefit married filing jointly couples get for personal exemptions, itemized deductions, the Child Tax Credit, and capital losses (all of these deductions are reduced by half)

·         Itemized deductions if your spouse has already claimed the standard deduction, or the other way around.

On top of that, if you live in the community property states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin, you have to deal with community property allocations and adjustments, which adds extra work and complexity to your tax preparation chores.

The main reason you'd want to file separately is to protect yourself from inaccurate tax information reported by your spouse, or in cases where your spouse refuses to file a joint return (or refuses to file, period) and you don't want to get in trouble.

Also, when you file separately, your refund cannot be seized to pay off your spouse's debts. However, filing jointly as an innocent or injured spouse can head off refund seizures as well.

With all that in mind, you can try it both ways to see which filing status works out better for the both of you. If you do this, also consider your state return; in some cases, the taxes saved on the state return more than makes up for the money lost on the federal, or vice-versa.

Tip: Only taxpayers who were still legally married as of December 31, 2015 are able to file as marrieds, whether jointly or separately.

Related Information:

·         How can we compare married filing jointly with married filing separately?

·         How do I switch from filing jointly to filing separately?

·         Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation

·         Innocent Spouse Relief

 

GEN83639

- Answered by TurboTax FAQ   to this question


SweetieJean
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

While it may seem counterintuitive, married couples in Ohio often can save money on [State] income taxes with the filing status "married filing separately" instead of automatically selecting "married filing jointly" status.
Hal_Al
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

"Neither of us will qualify for the earned income credit?"
That is correct.

"And the Child Tax Credit is reduced to half of the amount of a joint return."
That's not exactly correct. You get the full child tax credit (if you are the parent claiming the child as a dependent). But for higher income people, the reduction of the CTC (phase out) begins at half the income level ($55K) on a MFS return than a joint return ($110K)
SweetieJean
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

I've seen the phrase "Your Child Tax Credit will be limited to half the amount that it would be on a joint return." on several websites (TT competitors).
SweetieJean
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Yes, but not the Earned Income Credit.

VolvoGirl
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

And not the Child Care Credit.
mantkeat
New Member

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Neither of us will qualify for the earned income credit?
macuser_22
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

And the Child Tax Credit is reduced to half of the amount of a joint return.
**Disclaimer: This post is for discussion purposes only and is NOT tax advice. The author takes no responsibility for the accuracy of any information in this post.**
macuser_22
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

If you file MFS (Married Filing Separately) keep in mind that there are several limitations to MFS.  Married filing Jointly is usually the better way to file.
 
A few of those limitations are: (see IRS Pub 17 for the full list

<a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="https://www.irs.gov/publications/p17/ch02.html#en_US_2015_publink1000170777">https://www.irs.gov/pub...

1. Your tax rate generally is higher than on a joint return.
2. Your exemption amount for figuring the alternative minimum tax is half that allowed on a joint return.
3. You cannot take the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most cases, and the amount you can exclude from income under an employer's dependent care assistance you are legally separated or living apart from your spouse, you may be able to file a separate return and still take the credit. For more information about these expenses, the credit, and the exclusion, see chapter 32.
4. You cannot take the earned income credit.
5. You cannot take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most cases.
6. You cannot take the education credits (the American opportunity credit and lifetime learning credit) or the deduction for student loan interest.
7. You cannot exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds you used for higher education expenses.
8. If you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year:
a. You cannot claim the credit for the elderly or the disabled, and
b. You must include in income a greater percentage (up to 85%) of any social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits you received.
9. The following credits and deductions are reduced at income levels half those for a joint return:
a. The child tax credit,
b. The retirement savings contributions credit,
c. The deduction for personal exemptions, and
d. Itemized deductions.
10. Your capital loss deduction limit is $1,500 (instead of $3,000 on a joint return).
11. If your spouse itemizes deductions, you cannot claim the standard deduction. If you can claim the standard deduction, your basic standard deduction is half the amount allowed on a joint return.

- If you live in a community property state you must allocate community income between both spouses..
-
- Community property states.   If you live in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin and file separately, your income may be considered separate income or community income for income tax purposes. See Publication 555. <a rel="nofollow" target="_blank" href="http://www.irs.gov/publications/p555/index.html">http://www.irs.gov/publications/p555/index.html</a>
**Disclaimer: This post is for discussion purposes only and is NOT tax advice. The author takes no responsibility for the accuracy of any information in this post.**
SweetieJean
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

So why do you wish to file MFS?
VolvoGirl
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Why are you filing separately?  Unless you have a special reason, Joint is usually the best way to file.  You do lose credits by filing MFS and the tax rates are higher.
SweetieJean
Level 15

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Maybe they live in Ohio?
mantkeat
New Member

If you are married filing separately - can one of the parents still qualify for the child tax credit?

Well, I am not sure the best route. My spouse owes quite a few years worth of taxes, (from years prior to our marriage), and I am not wanting that to fall back on me? Will it?
Dynamic AdsDynamic Ads
Privacy Settings
v