Married Filing Separately

What does Married Filing Separately mean?

Married Filing Separately is one of the five filing statuses the IRS and state taxing authorities use in calculating a taxpayer's tax liability. Taxpayers use the Married Filing Jointly status when they are considered married on the last day of the tax year and choose to file separate tax returns.

Typically, the Married Filing Separately filing status provides for a higher tax liability than when choosing the Married Filing Jointly filing status. Taxpayers may still choose to use the Married Filing Separately filing status for various reasons, including when only one spouse is required to file a tax return, when a married couple has separated but is not divorced, or when one spouse does not want to be held responsible for the tax liability of the other spouse.

When taxpayers choose to use the Married Filing Separately filing status, taxpayers must coordinate the filing of their tax returns for two reasons. First, the taxpayers must both choose to file using the standard deduction or itemized deductions. Second, each taxpayer cannot still claim all of the dependents of the couple. Rather the taxpayers must choose who will claim each of their dependents on their separate tax return. If a taxpayer's spouse dies during a given tax year, the taxpayer would still qualify to file using the Married Filing Separately filing status in that tax year.

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