This just might be the worst tax-filing status to claim in the US

KEY POINTS

  • Married couples can opt to file jointly on one single tax return, or separately on two returns.
  • Couples filing separately may lose valuable tax credits and deductions. The IRS may also limit the amount they can contribute annually to a Roth IRA.
  • In 2016, the IRS received a total of 3.07 million returns claiming the “married filing separately” status.

If you and your estranged spouse are leading separate lives in separate homes, you might be thinking of filing your taxes that way, too.

Most married couples residing together under the same roof would see fit to file their income taxes on one joint return.

A number of couples have sought the alternative, which is to file under the status of “married filing separately. ” In this case, each spouse submits their own return and is responsible for their own tax liability.

In the 2016 tax year, the IRS received 3.07 million income tax returns using the “married filing separately” status.

Meanwhile, more than 54 million taxpayers submitted returns as “married filing jointly.”

Be aware that just because you can turn in separate tax returns to the IRS doesn’t mean that you should.

“Married filing separately isn’t the same as just filing as a single taxpayer,” said Robert Westley, CPA and member of the American Institute of CPA’s personal financial specialist committee.

“Generally it’s the least favorable filing status because it limits and can eliminate deductions and credits married couples would otherwise qualify for,” he said…

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