Today TaxMama hears from Michael in the TaxQuips Forum, with a brief question. “My wife and I are separated, although not legally. May I file a 2009 and 2010 tax return separately? Can it later be amended to jointly?”



Dear Michael,

If you are married without a legal separation (from a court), you are still considered married for income tax purposes.  You may file using the married, filing separate status only – unless you have a child. In which case, one of you may be able to file as head of household. There are special rules – please read them.

To the second part of your question – can you file jointly later, if you can work things out? Yes. When you file separately, you may change your filing status to “joint” if you amend the tax returns within three years of filing. You may not go from joint to separate, though. So, you’re on the right track.

 IRS has an entire publication designed to address many of the unique issues you and your spouse face right now. Read Publication 504 for Divorced or Separated Individuals.

And I hope you two work things out.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about marital problems and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At

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