Tax Preparation Help  
FAQ Keyword 115 2006 Tax Year

Keyword: Married Filing Separately

My wife and I are married filing separately. We have one son and we meet all of the dependency exemption tests. We contributed an equal amount to our son's support and want to know if we both can claim him on our separate returns?

Refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filling Information, for more information.

A dependency exemption may only be claimed on one return. Since your son is a qualifying child for both of you, you and your wife can decide who will claim the child. If you cannot agree on who will claim him refer to Tie-Breaker Rule in Publication 501

My husband and I were separated the last 11 months of the year and our two children lived with me. My husband provided all the financial support. Who can claim the children as dependents on the tax return?

Since your children lived with you for the greater part of the year, you are considered the custodial parent and you are the parent who is eligible to claim them as dependents on your tax return if the other dependency tests are met. Your husband is the noncustodial parent and would only be able to claim the children if you release your claim to the exemption by completing Form 8332 (PDF), Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or signing a substantially similar statement. Please be aware that if you release your claim to the dependency exemption for a child, you may not claim a Child Tax Credit for that child.

Refer to Publication 501, Exemption, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information or Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals, for more information on the special rule for children of divorced or separated parents.

My spouse and I are filing separate returns. How can we split our itemized deductions?

If you and your spouse file separate returns and one of you itemizes deductions, the other spouse will have a standard deduction of zero. Therefore, the other spouse should also itemize deductions.

You may be able to claim itemized deductions on a separate return for certain expenses that you paid separately or jointly with your spouse. Deductible expenses that are paid out of separate funds, such as medical expenses, are deductible by the spouse who pays them. If these expenses are paid from community funds, the deduction may depend on whether or not you live in a community property state. In a community property state, the deduction is, generally, divided equally between you and your spouse. For more information refer to Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals; and Publication 555, Community Property.

Can I claim an education credit if I am married but file separately?

No. Neither the Hope Credit nor the Lifetime Learning Credit can be claimed if the individual is married but filed a separate return.

My wife and I have two children and we are going to file separate returns this year. Can we each claim one child for the earned income credit?

In order to qualify for the earned income credit, your filing status cannot be married filing separately. If you are married, you usually must file a joint return to claim the earned income credit.

However, if you are married and your spouse did not live in your home at any time during the last 6 months of the year, you may be able to file as head of household. In that case, you may be able to claim the earned income credit.

Please refer to Publication 596, Earned Income Credit, for a complete discussion of the earned income credit. Refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for the head of household filing status rules.

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