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Stephen G.
Stephen G., Sr Income Tax Expert
Category: Tax
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Experience:  Extensive Experience with Tax, Financial & Estate Issues
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I lived seperate from retired husband who collects ss and

Customer Question

i lived seperate from retired husband who collects ss and pension but not legally seperated. should i file my tax return as married seperate tax return or a joint tax return.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Stephen G. replied 10 months ago.

You may do either. However, if you file "Joint" your husband must agree and both of you must include all of your information in the Joint return. If you decide to file "Married Filing Separately", then your husband must also use that filing method.

Expert:  Stephen G. replied 10 months ago.

Also, I should note that if you decide to file separately; if you itemize deductions your husband must itemize deductions, even if the standard deduction is higher; if you use the standard deduction, he must do so also.

Of course, your husband has all of the same options as you do & often the one who files first has the best chance of sustaining the options they choose if there's a disagreement.

Generally, the IRS seems to favor the spouse with the itemized deductions if the standard deduction isn't used by both spouses.

Customer: replied 10 months ago.
i know i can do either. what would make a better return. i am not retired work as an rn and don't receive ss and pension like my husband
Expert:  Stephen G. replied 10 months ago.

Generally, filing a joint return results in a lower combined tax.

One of the issues with filing separately is that there are a number of items that are treated unfavorably when you file that way; some of the deductions are limited to less than 1/2 of what you would receive if you filed jointly; also the Married Filing Separately tax rates are higher at lower brackets than the most favorable Married Filing Jointly brackets & rates.

If I may make a suggestion.

When faced with this question in the past, what I have suggested is that the couple file Jointly, but agree up front to split the tax based upon their gross incomes and then determine their additional payments or refunds considering their withholding and/or estimated payments. Generally, this works best if you have a tax preparer, preferably a CPA or EA to prepare your joint return & split the figures as indicated above.

If, for example your husband doesn't make estimated payments and you have withholding, it is possible that you would be overpaid and due a refund while he would owe money with the return.

Naturally, this takes some degree of co-operation between the parties. If this isn't possible for whatever reason, then there's not much of an alternative but to file using the Married Filing Separately filing status.

Expert:  Stephen G. replied 10 months ago.

Also, it is impossible to determine what is best for either party without having the figures to work with. The only general statement that is 95% applicable is that the total income tax is normally less if you file a Joint return.

Expert:  Stephen G. replied 10 months ago.

Do you have any follow up questions or may I clarify anything for you?

If not, please remember to rate my response, as that is the only way we receive credit for our work.

Thanks for using JustAnswer.com

Steve G.

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