Tax Filing Status for Separated Couples – What Are My Options If My Spouse Moved Out?

 

How do you file taxes if you’re separated? While your spouse moving out is a sign of being separated, you’ll have to meet certain requirements to file your return correctly.  

If you were married at the end of the year (separated, but not legally divorced), you can choose between these filing statuses:

  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately
  • Married filing head of household (if you qualify)

To qualify as married head of household, you must be:

  • Considered unmarried on the last day of the tax year
  • Filing a separate return from your spouse
  • Providing more than half the cost of maintaining your home the entire year
  • Not living in the same home as your spouse in the last six months of the year. This doesn’t include temporary absences due to illness, education, business, vacation, or military service.
  • Providing the main home for more than half of the year for one of these:
    • Child or stepchild
    • Foster child
    • A child you can claim an exemption for. You’ll also meet this test if you can claim the child, but you released the child to your spouse under the rules for children of divorced or separated parents.

Close relatives, including grandchildren, don’t qualify you to be considered unmarried for tax purposes.

How to File Taxes If You Divorced Mid-Year

If the divorce was final before the end of the year, you can’t file a joint return for that year. However, you shouldn’t automatically file as a single person. 

You might qualify as head of household if you’re providing a home for a child, which could lower how much tax you owe. See above for head of household filing status requirements. 

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