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Level 4

Marriage and taxes

If I were to get married and filed married filing separately could my parents claim me with out them finding out that I am married? My boyfriend does have an income, but if I file separately would his income be counted as mine? If that won't work, is there anyway to get married without my parents finding out?
13 Replies
Level 20

Marriage and taxes

If your parents qualify to claim you in the tax year you get married, you can file MFS and you can NOT take the standard deduction for your husband or claim any kids for any child tax credits if kids are in this mix. Likewise your husband would also file MFS and also can not take your self-exemption.

Note that for 2018 the dependent exemption and self-exemption no longer exists. Filing MFS you will get the $12,000 Self-exemption only. Then if/when your parents claim you on their tax return, they will not get a dependent exemption since that exemption no longer exists. However, if they qualify for any dependent credits such as qualified education expenses, they will claim those, and you flat out can not, unless specific and explicit criteria are met.

There is nothing illegal about this either, provided your parents qualify to claim you on their tax return.

So filing MFS all you will get is the $12,000 standard deduction at the most.

Requirements for parents to qualify to claim you:

- if on Dec 31 of the tax year you are under the age of 19 and your parents provided more than 50% of your support for the entire year, they qualify to claim you. Period.

                OR

- If on Dec 31 of the tax year you are:

   *Under the age of 24, and;

   *were enrolled as a full time student for any one semester that started in the tax year, and;

   *were enrolled in an accredited institution or higher learning, and;

   *were enrolled in a credentialed course of study that will lead to a degree or certification, and

   *YOU THE STUDENT did not provide more than 50% of your own support. (Scholarships, grants, 529 funds, gifts from Aunt Mary, etc. *do not count* for the student providing their own support) then:

- The parents qualify to claim the student on the parents tax return. The parents will also claim all education credits they qualify for.

Note that with the above, the student's earnings do not matter. The student could earn a million dollars and still qualify to be claimed as a dependent on the parent's tax return.

Note also that for a student, there is no requirement for the parents to provide any support. Not one single penny. THe support requirement is on the student, and only the student. TO reiterate that requirement, it is the student that must provide more than 50% of the students own support. There are only two possible ways the student can have sufficient income to provide their own support.

1. The student as a W-2 job or is self-employed and earns enough money to be able to prove that other sources of income (scholarship, grants, 529 funds, gifts, etc.) did not provide more than half of the student's support.

2. The student had a qualified student loan on which the *student* is the primary borrower, and sufficient funds were distributed to the student during the tax year to constitute more than half of the student's support.

One also has to take into account the amount of 3rd party income. For example, if you received $80K in scholarships during the tax year, then I don't care how much you may have earned. There is no way you're going to convince the IRS that it cost you more than $160K to support yourself as a college student. Your parent's would qualify to claim you on their tax return, even if you did earn a million dollars.

Level 4

Marriage and taxes

Okay, just so I understand.
I can file MFS and my parents will not find out that I am married as they will be able to claim me because I am a full time student? Is that correct? So, basically the only thing changing will my marital status? There is no kids in the mix and we do not want to claim each other as an exemption.
Level 20

Marriage and taxes

you can rest assured Mom and Dad will find out about the marriage eventually. But it won't be from the IRS directly per-se. Remember, after marriage you have to update your information with the Social Security Administration by visiting your local SSA office. The IRS pulls their data from the SSA every year, which will be around Dec 2018 for the 2018 taxes. So the name change will be reflected, and when the SSN doesn't match up with the last name on your parent's return, they're gonna know something's up. If you are in fact a college student, then you can expect all financial support to be cut off once they find out, since they will not be able to claim you (or more importantly your education expenses)  on their 2019 return because you're married for the entire tax year.

Level 4

Marriage and taxes

So, if I file MFS, keep my name the same, will my parents be able to claim me and my education expenses, without finding out about the marriage for a year or two?

 

Sorry for so many questions just trying to figure everything out!

Level 20

Marriage and taxes

Trust me, it's not going to be "a year or two". Not even close. You forgot that the health insurance required by law has to have your current marital status to be valid. When that bill comes due, they're gonna know. If a claim is filed against that policy, when it's denied because the marital status is in disagreement, they're gonna know.

Level 4

Marriage and taxes

Thank you for all the information!! I guess I will be better off just claiming myself?
Level 20

Marriage and taxes

Either you file MFS and let your parent's claim you, or your file MFJ and together on the joint return you two take your $24,000 standard deduction. If you are married on or before Dec 31 of the tax year, then any other filing status is not an available legal  option for you.

One thing to keep in mind is who files first. If your parents file first and claim you, then you will not be able to file MFJ or MFS and take your standard deduction.

Overall, it's really none of my business as to why you need to hide marriage from your parents anyway. But if the marriage is worth it, I would think it could wait until graduation maybe? We all have our opinions of course and I'm reluctant to post mine here since I don't know "the whole story" and I'm sure you don't want to post it in this public forum.

I guess my bottom line is, your parents are going to know something is up within 12 months of your marriage easily. If it's a problem, you can face the music now, or face it later. But you will face it. The longer you wait, the louder and more ear splitting that music will be most likely, too.

Overall, the way your pressing this, I suspect things have "happened" that ummmmmm,... for lack of a better word without coming out and saying it point blank.... "necessitate" the marriage within ohhhh... the next 9 months or so? 🙂

If I'm "close", then I would suggest you and the BF seek some counseling on campus for help in "breaking the news". I'm sure it's available for such a situation, because I can assure you that it would not be the first time that it's occurred with college students. I mean, you are after all, adults now, right?

Level 4

Marriage and taxes

I appreciate all of your responses!

Actually, I will tell you some of the story. My boyfriend is in the army and we want to move in together but it would just be easier to get married as we will receive BAH monthly for housing. We are not expecting right now, thankfully, haha. But, we just think it is more beneficial to get married as we plan on doing it in the future anyway. We just wanted to do this now so we can move in instead of waiting. I just wanted to hide it because I don't know how my dad will take it and I was just wondering if I could do it with out it causing a problem!

Level 20

Marriage and taxes

Being retired military myself, I can tell you that will create different problems. But before I get into that, what branch is your BF in, and what is his MOS or AFSC? Does his job require him to have a security clearance of "any" type?

Level 4

Marriage and taxes

He is a MP. I think it's 31B.
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Level 20

Marriage and taxes

Well, since he works in a security capacity, he's got a security clearance of at least level 3 (which is just under confidential). So when he notifies the military of his intent to marry (which is required) there "may" be a background investigation on you. (more than a 70% probability of this). This means DIA agents are going to be visiting friends and family to "investigate" you to ensure you are not a threat to the country, military, or government. I know it sounds kinda like "big deal" stuff, but it's not. Anytime a military member marries while on active duty, if that military member works in security or has a security clearance of any kind, when they get married the perspective spouse has their background checked more so for the military member they are marrying, than for anything else.

So mom and dad will find out, hands down. On top of that, if you have anything in your past that could affect your relationship with the BF, better get it out in the open now. Better he hears it from you, than from a DIA agent. (DIA = Defense Intelligence Agency). Trust me, DIA *WILL* find out. When they're done, they will know you better than you know yourself. Background investigations take anywhere from 3 to 6 months. Longer if you've moved a lot before you left home for that final time.

Additionally, when you get married, you will be issued a dependent ID card and enrolled in DEERS (Defense Enrollment Eligibility System) for your medical coverage. Your medical will be covered under Tricare - meaning you get dropped from mom and dad's insurance coverage automatically. 

So, if I file MFS, keep my name the same

That raises flags with DIA, Tricare and DEERS. You will both be investigated for suspicion of a fraudulent marriage. I've seen it in my day where a couple got married "for the extra money" (the BAH and BAQ) when in a high cost of living area, and then divorcing once they leave that area. The military does not take kindly to that, and the military member could find themselves doing time at Leavenworth. The point with this paragraph is, mom and dad are going to find out, and if they don't hear it from  you, I'm fairly certain they won't be showing up for your graduation since they may stop funding it. (The military has tons of education benefits for military spouses and their dependents. My favorite is the Hap Arnold Grant.)

 

Level 4

Marriage and taxes

Wow, thank you so much for all of the information!! I will definitely have to reconsider my options, or just get married correctly. Thank you again!! I will have to get in touch with you again if I have any other questions!
Level 20

Marriage and taxes

Best o luck to you and yours. Also, any military related questions should be directed to the BF. Some things have changed since my days serving, and he has access to free legal advice at the base legal office. All he may need to do is make an appointment (and you can attend also) and it won't cost a dime.