Wife Filed Alone

Today TaxMama® hears from Francis in the TaxQuips Forum with this problem. “For some reason that only she understands, my wife decided to filed separately, as head of household (she is working and I am not as I lost my job for health troubles). I filed as married filing separately with no income to declare. I have decided to go back to college a year ago and I qualify for student grants/loans. The financial department is unable to process financial aid, as our IRS returns are not “compatible”, according to the college people. Is there a simple solution to resolve this matter (for example, is it possible to amend a filing status) ?”  

Ask TaxMama 

 Dear Francis.  

The college is correct. You and your wife have only TWO choices when it comes to filing tax returns if you live together:

  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately

 Head of household is not only NOT an option, it’s illegal – especially if she was able to generate an earned income credit by filing that way. The IRS takes EIC fraud pretty seriously, too – so she should beware, if that’s what she did.  

Back to what you must do. You have two choices:  

1) You can amend your two tax returns to file jointly, or

2) Your wife can amend hers to Married filing separately.  

Talk to the college aid people to find out if option 2 is acceptable to them, if your wife wants to go that route. She may still claim the child(ren) – but can only get head of household if she did not live with you for the entire last 6 months of 2011. I hope that works out for you two.

And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about filing status and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At www.TaxMama.com.

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