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JOHNNY3
Returning Member

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

 
6 Replies
rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

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Carl
Level 15

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

What matters is your status on Dec 31 of the tax year. If you are still legally married and living in the same household, then you can file either MFS or MFJ. But being separated or "considered separated" doesn't allow you to file anything but MFS or MFJ if there are no kids involved. Overall though, if you file separate returns you will automatically disqualify yourselves for any tax credits you may otherwise qualify for if filing joint. Additionally when filing MFS, if one of you takes the standard deduction, then you must both take the standard deduction  - even if the itemized deductions of one is higher.
Likewise, if one of you itemizes then you must both itemize even if the itemized deductions of one of you is zero.
If kids are involved, then it's possible for the one with the kids to file as HOH if certain stringent criteria are met. Now I'm not getting into all the possible scenarios here because only one scenario would apply to your specific situation.
rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

MFS = Married Filing Separately
MFJ = Married Filing Jointly

Unless you live in Ohio and both have income, you will almost certainly pay less tax or get a bigger refund by filing jointly rather than separately. But to file jointly you both have to agree and cooperate. If that's not possible, then your only choice is married filing separately.

If you have a child living with you, post more details, including the child's age and exactly when and for how long he or she lived with you. Also clarify for which part of the year you and your wife lived separately. As Carl said, there might be another option if you have a child living with you.
JOHNNY3
Returning Member

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

We lived seperatley January 1-August 31. Moved back in together September 1. 3 kids involved age 10, 6 and 3
rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

Since you lived together during part of the last half of the year, you should file as married filing jointly. You just ignore the period of separation and file your joint tax return the same as if you lived together all year. The separation does not affect your taxes.

As I mentioned earlier, if you live in Ohio and both have income, you might find that by filing as married filing separately you save so much on your state tax that it more than compensates for the additional federal tax that you have to pay. The only way to know for sure is to try it both ways and see which works out better. This is because of a quirk in the Ohio state tax law. If you don't live in Ohio, just forget about this and file jointly.

Filing as head of household is not an option in your situation. Your only choices are married filing jointly or married filing separately. As stated earlier, married filing jointly is almost always better.

rjs
Level 15
Level 15

Me and my wife were seperated for 8 months this year. Never divorced or filed a legal seperation. We lived in seperate households. How should I file this year?

There is a possible exception to my statement that the period of separation does not affect your taxes. The exception only applies if you file separately, so it most likely will not apply to you, but I want to mention it just in case. If you file as married filing separately, the question of which one of you can claim the children as dependents will depend on who each child lived with, and for how long. But if you file as married filing jointly, which is the recommended choice, it doesn't matter. You will claim all three children on your joint tax return.
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