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Lev
Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 28092
Experience:  Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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My wife and I are married but lived apart for the entire 2009

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My wife and I are married but lived apart for the entire 2009 tax year. I believe that we can be considered unmarried and I can file head of household based on the info here http://www.irs.gov/publications/p501/ar02.html#en_US_publink1000220775 I am unsure of two things. A) What would my wife file? single or also HOH? B) Under the considered unmarried section is states: You file a separate return (defined earlier under Joint Return After Separate Returns ). Is this just filing a separate a return or something specific for the Joint return after separate returns section.

My daughter lived with me for just over six months she would be the qualifying child, but my wife also claimed welfare for a brief period of time that I did not know anything about. If some of the time she received welfare payments during the time my daughter was with me haw can that be claimed? If she files single when I file HOH could that work? Would married but separated work?
You are absolutely correct - and point to the correct reference.
As long as you have a qualified child and paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year - you may use HOH filing status.

A) What would my wife file? single or also HOH?
You wife may also use HOH filing status if she has a qualified person. You both may not use the same qualified person. If your wife doesn't have a qualified person - her filing status would be MFS - married filing separate. She would not be able to use Single as a filing status.

If you both agree to file a joint tax return - you may use MFJ - married filing jointly filing status. Both you and your spouse must include all of your income, exemptions, and deductions on your joint return.
If you and your spouse do not agree to file a joint return, you have to use this filing status unless you qualify for head of household status.

Unless you are required to file separately, you should figure your tax both ways (on a joint return and on separate returns). This way you can make sure you are using the filing status that results in the lowest combined tax. However, you will generally pay more combined tax on separate returns than you would on a joint return due to reasons listed in the same publication page 7 - see Special Rules - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf

Let me know if you need any help to estimate your tax liability either way.
Lev and 3 other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for clearing up the HOH for me. If I file HOH can I file itemized and she file a standard return.

What about the welfare that my wife received for a few months? If she files MFS is her income separate from mine? My income is such that we wouldn't qualify for any welfare assistance. But she received this while she lived separately. She received the benefits for the same child that I would use for HOH. Can my child be on both a HOH return and MFS return? She did live with my wife during the first half of the year. Is there any concern for welfare fraud?
If I file HOH can I file itemized and she file a standard return.
If you itemize and she will file using MFS filing status - she has to itemize. See the same publication - page 23 - Persons not eligible for the standard deduction.

What about the welfare that my wife received for a few months? If she files MFS is her income separate from mine?
Her income is separate from yours as long as you do not live together. It doesn't matter how you file your tax return - jointly or separate.

Can my child be on both a HOH return and MFS return?
Generally - you may not claim the same child, however there are some exemptions for divorced or separated parents.
Under the IRS rules the custodial parent is the parent with whom the child lived for the greater part of the year. The other parent is the noncustodial parent.

The IRS will award dependency exemption to the custodial parent.

 

Can my child be on both a HOH return and MFS return?

The custodial parent may release the claim to the noncustodial parent by signing the form 8332 - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8332.pdf - should be filed with the noncustodial parent's tax return. The non-custodial parent - you should obtain that form signed by the custodian parent for specified years.

Please refer to the IRS publication 504 - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p504.pdf

If a child is treated as the qualifying child of the noncustodial parent under the special rule for divorced or separated parents, only the noncustodial parent can claim an exemption and the child tax credit for the child.

However, the noncustodial parent cannot claim the child for head of household filing status, the credit for child and dependent care expenses, the exclusion for dependent care benefits, and the earned income credit. Only the custodial parent (or other eligible taxpayer) can claim the child as a qualifying child for these four tax benefits.


Is there any concern for welfare fraud?
If you claim a child as your dependent - that means the child is living with you.
If your wife received welfare benefits for the same child - means the child is living with her.
If the child lived part of the year with your wife - that should be stated on her welfare application.
Lev and 3 other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Lev, Thanks for all of your help. One last question. Since my daughter lived with each of us for six months, so I my wife should be able to claim HOH as well and then I claim MFS. This would allow her to claim Educational credits and possibly EIC. I own my home and she rents. How would decide if it is better for either we both file with the standard deduction and I may lose out on any interest and property taxes I pay or we both itemize and I claim the the interest and property taxes and she loses the standard deduction benefits.
Since my daughter lived with each of us for six months, so I my wife should be able to claim HOH as well and then I claim MFS.
Please refer to the IRS publication 504 - http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p504.pdf
If the child lived with each parent for an equal number of nights during the year, the custodial parent is the parent with the higher adjusted gross income.

How would decide if it is better for either we both file with the standard deduction and I may lose out on any interest and property taxes I pay or we both itemize and I claim the interest and property taxes and she loses the standard deduction benefits.
You may want to fill tax returns both ways and compare which is more beneficial for both of you before final filing.

Lev and 3 other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks for all of your help.