Question

My husband and I have large medical bills this year. Were We thinking about claiming married filing separately. Is this a good idea?

Answer

In most cases, claiming married filing separately is the least beneficial filing status. When you file using this status, your credits and deductions are limited. Sometimes, they aren’t even allowed.

If you’re claiming married filing separately and one spouse itemizes deductions, the other spouse’s standard deduction is zero. It makes sense to itemize deductions so you can get any deductions you’re allowed. If one spouse has higher income and not many itemized deductions, losing the standard deduction could have a negative impact on his or her return.

However, in the case of large medical bills, it can be beneficial to file as married filing separately. Ex: One spouse paid a large proportion of medical bills but has the smaller income.

Itemizing might allow you to claim the medical expenses on one spouse’s taxes when either of these applies:

  • You usually wouldn’t be allowed to claim them.
  • The expenses would be limited to a smaller amount.

Itemizing can also affect other tax credits and deductions negatively.

If you’re unsure of how to file, you can enter your information using both filing statuses. Then, you can determine which is most beneficial for you.

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