How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Merlo Your Own Question

Merlo
Merlo, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 9783
Experience:  25+ years tax consulting. Specializing in returns for US citizens living abroad
9573734
Type Your Tax Question Here...
Merlo is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My understanding is that if two people are living apart and

Customer Question

My understanding is that if two people are living apart and have in place a separate maintenance agreement, in my case drawn up by my lawyer and signed by my wife and myself also notarized,that this document serves as a legal document. The tax law says that we can file as single, not married single, but single ,is this correct and if so do I attach a copy to my tax forms when I file? I have asked several lawyers and in each case received somewhat ambiguous answers. Maryland
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Merlo replied 6 years ago.

HelloCustomer

 

If you are unmarried, or if you are legally separated from your spouse under a divorce or separate maintenance decree according to your state law, and you do not qualify for another filing status, your filing status is single - not "married filing separate return". You do not have to attach a copy of that decree to your tax return.

 

I am giving you a link to a section of the IRS website which explains this in more detail. This same information is also detailed on page 12 of the instructions for Form 1040.

 

If this has been helpful please press the Accept button. Positive feedback is also appreciated.

 

Thank you.

 

 

http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc353.html

 

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I have this onfo, it' one thing to get a limited divorce, a separate maint agreement quite another,especially if drawn up by a lawyer
Expert:  Merlo replied 6 years ago.

Hello againCustomer

 

I apologize if I misinterpreted your original question. You are quite right that if you do not actually have a separate maintenance decree issued by the court, that it is not the same as simply having a separate maintenance agreement drawn up by an attorney.

 

In your situation, you would not qualify to file as a "single" taxpayer. However, you may qualify to file as "head of household" if you meet certain criteria. The filing status of head of household actually offers a bigger tax advantage than filing as single.

 

This can apply to you even if you are not divorced or legally separated. If you qualify to file as head of household, instead of as married filing separately, your tax may be lower, you may be able to claim the earned income credit and certain other credits, and your standard deduction will be higher. The head of household filing status allows you to choose the standard deduction even if your spouse chooses to itemize deductions.

 

Here are the criteria you must meet to file as head of household:

  1. You file a separate return.

  2. You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.

  3. Your spouse did not live in your home during the last 6 months of the tax year. Your spouse is considered to live in your home even if he or she is temporarily absent due to special circumstances.

  4. Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half the year.

  5. You must be able to claim an exemption for the child. However, you meet this test if you cannot claim the exemption only because the noncustodial parent can claim the child.

If you meet all of the above criteria, then you can file as head of household, even though you are not "legally" separated by a decree from the court.

 

I am giving you two links below. One is to IRS Publication 501 which explains the rules for filing status. Refer in particular to the section for "Married Filing Separately" and then also to the section for "Head of Household - subsection "Considered Unmarried".

 

The other link is to the actual IRC Code 7703 which is the actual law which governs this choice in filing status.

 

I hope this helps clarify things for you, but if not let me know.

 

 

http://64.233.167.104/search?q=cache:PCmsbNrlfBUJ:www.irs.gov/publications/p501/ar02.html+irs+separate+maintenance+agreement+filing+status&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us

 

http://www.fourmilab.ch/ustax/www/t26-F-79-7703.html

 

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • I really was impressed with the prompt response. Your expert was not only a tax expert, but a people expert!!! Her genuine and caring attitude came across in her response... T.G.W Matteson, IL
< Last | Next >
  • I really was impressed with the prompt response. Your expert was not only a tax expert, but a people expert!!! Her genuine and caring attitude came across in her response... T.G.W Matteson, IL
  • I WON!!! I just wanted you to know that your original answer gave me the courage and confidence to go into yesterday's audit ready to fight. Bonnie Chesnee, SC
  • Great service. Answered my complex tax question in detail and provided a lot of additional useful information for my specific situation. John Minneapolis, MN
  • Excellent information, very quick reply. The experts really take the time to address your questions, it is well worth the fee, for the peace of mind they can provide you with. Orville Hesperia, California
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
  • This expert is wonderful. They truly know what they are talking about, and they actually care about you. They really helped put my nerves at ease. Thank you so much!!!! Alex Los Angeles, CA
  • Thank you for all your help. It is nice to know that this service is here for people like myself, who need answers fast and are not sure who to consult. GP Hesperia, CA
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Wallstreet Esq.

    Tax Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    570
    10 years experience
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/KU/KUMI95/2013-9-30_195031_kumar.64x64.jpg Wallstreet Esq.'s Avatar

    Wallstreet Esq.

    Tax Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    570
    10 years experience
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/CU/Cuttinggirl/2011-10-29_03719_wcrop2.64x64.jpg Wendy Reed's Avatar

    Wendy Reed

    Enrolled Agent

    Satisfied Customers:

    3052
    15+ years tax preparation and tax advice.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/CATax/2009-08-04_204548_Mark.jpg Mark D's Avatar

    Mark D

    Enrolled Agent

    Satisfied Customers:

    985
    MBA, EA, Specializing in Business and Individual Tax Returns and Issues
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IN/insearchoftheanswer/2013-8-16_0233_attorney.64x64.jpg Richard's Avatar

    Richard

    Tax Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    3229
    29 years of experience as a tax, real estate, and business attorney.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MY/MyVirtualCPA/2012-7-5_44024_cookmegan1.64x64.jpg Megan C's Avatar

    Megan C

    Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

    Satisfied Customers:

    6121
    Licensed CPA, CFE, CMA who teaches accounting courses at Master's Level
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/JG/jgordosea/2012-6-7_43138_GordosVeritas.64x64.jpg jgordosea's Avatar

    jgordosea

    Enrolled Agent

    Satisfied Customers:

    2783
    I've prepared all types of taxes since 1987.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/OZ/ozaukeecpa/2012-6-7_193219_Picture1croppedandshrunk.64x64.jpg MequonCPA's Avatar

    MequonCPA

    Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

    Satisfied Customers:

    2231
    CPA, Over 30 yrs experience w/individuals and small businesses. Masters in Tax.