My wife and I live separately with separate finances. What tax filing status should we use?

My wife and I live separately with separate finances. What tax filing status should we use?

by Larry M. Carroll, CPA | Feb 02, 2018

My wife and I choose to live separately. We each have a child from a previous marriage that we want to attend their respective schools. We keep all finances separate and maintain separate households. She owns her own home; I rent my homes. What filing status should we use? Can either of us file as head of household, or is it best to file married filing separately?

With the limited information provided, I can provide some general considerations. I'm not sure why you file separately. Depending on how long have you been separated, you might both qualify as head of household. It all depends on the legal status of the marriage.

Filing jointly is the best way to file, unless you have deductions subject to limitations based on income (medical, employee business expenses). However, if you are maintaining the households so that you can send the children to their respective public schools, and you live totally separately from each other, then filing as head of household might be best. Whatever the final decision, it is important that both you and your wife have an agreed upon plan.

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Answered by: Larry M. Carroll, CPA, is an individual practitioner with Larry M. Carroll CPA PC in Blue Bell, Pa.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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