Married or Otherwise

Today TaxMama hears from Karin in Jacksonville, Florida, who tells us “I was single for most of 2005. Now my husband and I are trying to figure out the best way to file, since for that time I was head of my household, paying daycare expenses and etc. Any advice? He has already filed Married filing separately. Should I do the same, or file as single?

[Folks, this week seems to be filled with couples asking questions just as off-base as this.]

Dear Karin,

What good planning on his part!

First he files his own tax return without considering you and THEN he tries to figure out the best way for YOU to file? What a genius.

If he’s already filed as married, separate, you only have one choice – married, filing separately. That’s it.

You’re married. You don’t get to file as single anymore.

Your other choice would be for the two of you to prepare a married, filing jointly tax return. Then file it as an amended return to replace his first tax return.

To do that, first you’d have to wait for his tax return to finish processing. And if he has a refund coming, you’ll have to wait to get that refund.

Only then should you file the amended return, Form 1040X – and you’ll need professional help to get that one right.

If he’d sat down with you to work this out before he filed, chances are you might have been able to file a joint return without hiring a tax pro, just by picking up some software at Amazon’s Tax Center.

Well, at least the good news is – being in Florida, you won’t have to file an amended return with the state.

I do recommend that you and your husband spend some time getting familiar with IRS Publication 17.

In fact, why don’t you call IRS Forms hotline 800-TAX FORM (800-829-3676) and get a printed copy. Carry it around and read the book. It’s surprisingly entertaining, filed with all kinds of examples and stories. Do that and you won’t have this kind of confusion next year.

Remember, you’ll find answers to questions about filing status and all kinds of tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com

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