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maryann-furner
New Member

Im newly Married filing separately, because my husband owes back taxes that he's been paying on. Is this still the best way to file?

I dont want to not get a refund due to his owing back taxes. But I know there are credits for filing jointly. Which is best?
1 Reply
PatriciaR
New Member

Im newly Married filing separately, because my husband owes back taxes that he's been paying on. Is this still the best way to file?

First, I will give you some information regarding Married Filing Jointly vs Married Filing Separately.  After that, I am providing information about the forms you can file so that your portion of the refund is not offset for your spouse's debt.  The form you need depends upon what type of debt your spouse owes.

Married Filing Jointly vs Married Filing Separately:

Your filing status is determined based on your status on December 31st, 2016.  Please see the additional information below to determine the status that is best for your tax situation:

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:

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.

Tip: Only taxpayers who were still legally married as of December 31, 2016 are able to file as marrieds, whether jointly or separately.

NOTE:   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, or deductions for student loan interest. A higher percent of your Social Security benefits may be taxable.  In many cases you will not be able to take the child and dependent care credit.  If you live in a community property state, you will be required to provide additional information regarding your spouse’s income.  If you are using online TurboTax to prepare your returns, you will need to prepare two separate returns and pay twice.

Innocent Spouse Relief or Injured Spouse Allocation
Injured Spouse is the more common form.

Injured Spouse.You are an injured spouse if your share of the overpayment shown on your joint return was, or is expected to be, applied (offset) against your spouse's legally enforceable past-due federal taxes, state income taxes, state unemployment compensation debts, child or spousal support payments, or a federal nontax debt, such as a student loan. If you are an injured spouse, you may be entitled to receive a refund of your share of the overpayment. 

An Innocent spouse is someone who filed a joint return with their spouse, and later is being assessed for taxes due that the spouse understated the tax on the joint return.

Since you are newly married, I am thinking you may want Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.  See additional info below as well as a link to additional info for Innocent Spouse, if you would like more detail.

How to File Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation

Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation lets you (the "injured spouse") get back your portion of a jointly-filed refund if it's seized or offset to pay your spouse's debt, if the IRS approves the form. The Injured Spouse Form is filed when the overpayment on your jointly filed tax return was (or is expected to be) applied to a past-due obligation of your spouse.

You must file jointly to use this form. Also, filing an 8379 will delay your federal refund by up to 14 weeks.

To file this form in TurboTax:

  1. Open your return.
    (To do this, sign in to TurboTax and click the orange "
    Take me to my return" button.)
  2. In the Search box (upper right of program), search for "injured spouse" and then click the "Jump to" link in the search results.
  3. Answer "Yes" to "Do you want to claim innocent or injured spouse relief?" and carefully follow the onscreen instructions for Injured Spouse. (click on screenshot below for more detail)

Note: Pay close attention to the screens, as some of them apply to innocent spouse relief, which is something else. Leave those questions blank if you only want to claim injured spouse relief.

What if I've already filed my tax return?

If you've already filed and your return has been accepted, you will have to mail the form to the IRS using TurboTax to create the form.  

If you are using TurboTax Online, open your return and sign in.  On the Welcome home screen, select Taxes. On the Tax Timeline screen, select Amend (change) return. 

If you are using the CD/Download product, open your return. 

When your return is open, In the Search box, search for "injured spouse" and then click the "Jump to" link in the search results. Answer Yes to Do you want to claim innocent or injured spouse relief? and carefully follow the onscreen instructions for Injured Spouse.

See more information below from the IRS:

IRS-Seven Facts about Injured Spouse Relief

Innocent Spouse https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p971.pdf

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