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Ask Lane Your Own Question
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 9706
Experience:  Law Degree, specialization in Tax Law and Corporate Law, CFP and MBA, Providing Financial & Tax advice since 1986
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I live in a different state than my husband. The children live

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I live in a different state than my husband. The children live with me. This is a non-legal separation (although we may or may not get back together). Financially, we operate as if we are divorced. We do not share any finances and I receive a set amount per month to help with the children. I am not sure we meet the requirements for head of household because we are still trying to work out the marriage part. What is the best status for me to file? Particularly because my husband makes more money than me, but we do not have access to any of it.

NPVAdvisor :

Hi, Married filing jointly is almost always the best, XXXXX XXXXX of higher standard deduction and allowing for a much higher amount of total income to be taxed at lower brackets

NPVAdvisor :

Here's a great overview of some of the basics of the filing statuses available and how they work, from IRS (I WILL say thi quickly, married filing separately almost never maximizes things financially)

NPVAdvisor :
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Eight Facts About Filing Status

IRS Tax Tip 2011-09, January 13, 2011

The first step to filing your federal income tax return is to determine which filing status to use. Your filing status is used to determine your filing requirements, standard deduction, eligibility for certain credits and deductions, and your correct tax. There are five filing statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child.

Here are eight facts about the five filing status options the IRS wants you to know so that you can choose the best option for your situation.

  1. Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your marital status for the entire year.

  2. If more than one filing status applies to you, choose the one that gives you the lowest tax obligation.

  3. Single filing status generally applies to anyone who is unmarried, divorced or legally separated according to state law.

  4. A married couple may file a joint return together. The couple’s filing status would be Married Filing Jointly.

  5. If your spouse died during the year and you did not remarry during 2010, usually you may still file a joint return with that spouse for the year of death.

  6. A married couple may elect to file their returns separately. Each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.

  7. Head of Household generally applies to taxpayers who are unmarried. You must also have paid more than half the cost of maintaining a home for you and a qualifying person to qualify for this filing status.

  8. You may be able to choose Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child as your filing status if your spouse died during 2008 or 2009, you have a dependent child and you meet certain other conditions.


My problem is that it "seems" like I have access to a lot of $ by filing jointly, but in reality, I make very little money and am raising 3 kids on my own. I do not qualify for any scholarships or low income housing because of my husband's income, which we do not have access to!

NPVAdvisor :

Yes, that is definitely what things turn on ... When you file jointly that will DEFINITELY be the least amount of tax .. allow for all dependency exemptions to be take without any complications tax the TOTAL joint income at a much lower rate ,,, BUT you have to get him to agree to share in some of that savings ... ANY REUND CHECK WILL come to both of you


we are most likely going to divorce. Will married filing single protect me?

NPVAdvisor :

Yes the ONE good reason I can think of for married filing separately is to truly keep things separate ... you'l lose the ability for some of the credits out there, but it definitely keeps things separate... If there's a lack of trust there, this IS when you might want to consider Married filin Separate


ok thank you.

NPVAdvisor :

You're very welcome]Good luck with everything

NPVAdvisor :

f this HAS helped, I would appreciate a feedback rating of 3 (OK) or better … That's the only way they will pay us here.

HOWEVER, if you need more on this, PLEASE COME BACK here, so you won't be charged for another question.

Lane and other Tax Specialists are ready to help you

Hi Jill,

Thanks so much for the rating.

Here's an article you may want to look at:

Thanks again,

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