If You Are Separated Can You File Single on Your Tax Return? Finance. Your filing options are based on the nature of your separation.
Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images. When it comes to your filing status for tax purposes, only one day of the year matters: December 3. If you were still legally married on the last day of the year, you typically cannot file your taxes as a single taxpayer, even if you were no longer living with your spouse. It's never that simple with the Internal Revenue Service, however, and some exceptions exist.
Single Status. Single status depends on the nature of your marital separation. If you're legally separated – and not all states recognize this concept – you can file as a single taxpayer even if you're not divorced by December 3. In this case, the IRS accepts your decree of separation as sufficient proof that your marriage has ended. You need a decree or judgment to qualify for this loophole, however. A separation agreement isn't enough, and if you and your spouse have simply relocated to separate households, the IRS says you're still married and you can't file a single return. Head of Household.
Where the Internal Revenue Service is concerned, you're either single or married – you can't be both. If you're married, you can't file as a single taxpayer, and if you're single, you can't file as a married taxpayer. If you made a mistake, however, you can go back and fix it. It's far better to.
Making the decision to live together — regardless of whether you get the official marriage license or opt for a common-law union — can bring significant changes to your life. One of the things that might change is the way you file your taxes. The IRS allows you to file. Filing Status There are five filing statuses the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) recognizes for individual taxpayers. You may file as single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household or qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. Your status as of.
If you don't have to file as a single taxpayer, you may not want to. It's usually more beneficial to file as head of household if you qualify – and you can potentially qualify even if you and your spouse are just living separately without a decree or judgment. The catch is that you can't have lived together the last six months of the year, and some other rules apply as well. You must have paid more than half your household's expenses and you must have a dependent for whom you can claim an exemption. As long you and your spouse don't live together past June 3.
Married Filing Separately. If your divorce isn't final by December 3. This leaves you two options: filing separately or filing a joint return. Filing separately has a few disadvantages. You need only report your own income, but you lose out on certain tax benefits such as education- related tax credits and the child and dependent care credit. The tax brackets for determining the portion of your income that you must pay in taxes are set much lower for separate filers than those for couples who file jointly. Married Filing Jointly.
Assuming you and your spouse maintain a civil relationship, you can still file a joint return together if you want to and if you don't have a traditional divorce decree or a decree of legal separation before year's end. This allows you to take advantage of the tax benefits you'd be excluded from if you filed separately.
If you do so, however, you may not be able to change your mind later. You can’t amend your return to separate married status past the tax deadline, usually April 1.
Photo Credits. Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images. About the Author. Beverly Bird has been writing professionally since 1. She is the author of several novels including the bestselling "Comes the Rain" and "With Every Breath." Bird also has extensive experience as a paralegal, primarily in the areas of divorce and family law, bankruptcy and estate law. She covers many legal topics in her articles.