Question

If my spouse files separately and itemizes, can I file using the standard deduction?

Answer

Even though you and your spouse are choosing to file your taxes as married, filing separately you both need to itemize your tax deductions. If your spouse itemizes, your standard deduction will be zero. Therefore, you should also itemize your deductions. In itemizing your tax returns, you and your spouse will need to determine the following:

The spouse who paid an expense that results in a tax deduction should claim the full deduction.

If you and your spouse paid the expense from a joint account you will need to divide the deduction according to your interest in the account. In community property states, expenses paid with community property (a joint checking account) should be divided in half.

When married couples choose to file tax returns as married filing separately they report their own earned income and expenses on individual tax returns. In doing so, the married couple must agree how to best divide itemized expenses or choose to use the standard deduction to reduce their tax. The standard deduction is an amount that reduces the taxable income and eliminates the need to itemize tax deductions. Calculate both methods to decide which is beneficial to you.

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