I have 3 children and normally would file as head of house hold. I would also receive a refund each year. In 2018, I married and filed a joint tax return. My refund was taken away from me because my new husband had a massive amount of debt that I didn't know about. I contacted the IRS and they helped me file a injured spouse form and they sent me my refund. Now filing for 2019 I wanted to file married filing separately since my husband has still a large amount of debt. When I was doing the turbotax for 2019 my refund is zero. So I tried to see what it would look like with filing jointly and it showed my normal refund amount. I don't want to file jointly since my husband has so much debt that might take away my refund again. How can I file separately with my 3 dependents and get my refund?
You need to file Joint and submit the injured spouse form with your return.
As you found out, It is usually better to file Joint. Joint has the lowest tax rates and the highest Standard Deduction. And if you are in a Community Property state MFS gets tricky to figure out. And If one person itemizes deductions then the other one must itemize too, even if it's less than the standard deduction, even if it is ZERO!
And there are several credits you can't take when filing separately, like the
EITC Earned Income Tax Credit
Child Care Credit
Educational Deductions and Credits
And contributions to IRA and ROTH IRA are limited when you file MFS.
Also if you file Married Filing Separately up to 85`% of your Social Security becomes taxable right away even with zero other income.
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 itemized deductions, the Child Tax Credit, and capital losses (all of these deductions are reduced by half)
- The standard deduction if your spouse is claiming itemized deductions
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.
Your best option is to file as Married Filing Jointly and include with your joint tax return a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation so that your portion of the tax refund will not be seized for your spouse's debts.
See this TurboTax support FAQ for the Form 8379 - https://ttlc.intuit.com/community/accessing/help/how-do-i-file-form-8379-injured-spouse-allocation/0...