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Recently divorced and was going to file married filing

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Recently divorced and was...

Recently divorced and was going to file married filing separate, but my ex called after filing already and said he owed money and could not claim our college student son unless we filed joint is this so ? The ex has been on SS disability and pulled money from a 401 K for home improvements and helping with sons college. I had been working for a housecleaning service at minimum wage. Should I continue with married filing separate ?

Accountant's Assistant: The Accountant will know how to help. Is there anything else the Accountant should be aware of?

Resided in the state of Illinois just moved to WA state

Submitted: 1 year ago.Category: Tax
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Answered in 7 minutes by:
4/1/2017
Tax Professional: Lev, Tax Advisor replied 1 year ago
Lev
Lev, Tax Advisor
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 33,340
Experience: Taxes, Immigration, Labor Relations
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The main question if you WERE married on Dec 31, 2016?
If yes - you have a choice - to file a joint tax return as MFJ - married filing jointly OR

to file a separate tax returns using MFS - married filing separate as your filing status.
Only if you both agree - you may file a joint tax return.

Your ex-spouse is correct - when using MFS status some deductions and credits are not allowed - and tax rates are generally higher.

In your situation - it might be better to prepare returns both ways and compare - so you will be able to make decision based on actual numbers.
I will help you with estimated if needed.

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Tax Professional: Lev, Tax Advisor replied 1 year ago

A married couple may elect to file their returns separately. Each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately.
Head of Household generally applies to taxpayers who are unmarried (or considered 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.

You will generally pay more combined tax on separate returns than you would on a joint return for the reasons listed below

  1. Your tax rate generally is higher than on a joint return.

  2. Your exemption amount for figuring the alternative minimum tax is half that allowed on a joint return.

  3. You can’t take the credit for child and dependent care expenses in most cases, and the amount you can exclude from income under an employer's dependent care assistance program is limited to $2,500 (instead of $5,000). However, if you are legally separated or living apart from your spouse, you may be able to file a separate return and still take the credit. For more information about these expenses, the credit, and the exclusion, see chapter 32.

  4. You can’t take the earned income credit.

  5. You can’t take the exclusion or credit for adoption expenses in most cases.

  6. You can’t take the education credits (the American opportunity credit and lifetime learning credit), the deduction for student loan interest, or the tuition and fees deduction.

  7. You can’t exclude any interest income from qualified U.S. savings bonds you used for higher education expenses.

  8. If you lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year:

    1. You can’t claim the credit for the elderly or the disabled, and

    2. You must include in income a greater percentage (up to 85%) of any social security or equivalent railroad retirement benefits you received.

  9. The following credits and deductions are reduced at income levels half those for a joint return:

    1. The child tax credit,

    2. The retirement savings contributions credit,

    3. The deduction for personal exemptions, and

    4. Itemized deductions.

  10. Your capital loss deduction limit is $1,500 (instead of $3,000 on a joint return).

  11. If your spouse itemizes deductions, you can’t claim the standard deduction. If you can claim the standard deduction, your basic standard deduction is half the amount allowed on a joint return.

Let me know if you need any help with determination.

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