Asked in Tax Law for Indiana

Q: Am I able to refile taxes as single once they have been filed as joint return?

My wife and I separated in October of 2017, neither of us had the money to file for a divorce at the time. We still lived together until May of 2018 before I was able to move out. I then moved out and lived on my own, then in late September of 2018 she because homeless and I let her move in with me rent free to save money. However, we did not share any household financial responsibilities. We lived completely separate lives, she kept money that she had earned and I kept my money that O had earned and we were in no way together for the entire tax year of 2018. I went to file my taxes through H&R Block and was told by the agent, that I had to file a joint return because we were not legally divorced. I was recently informed that I did not legally have to do that since we were not together. I would just like to know from someone that knows the actual law whether or not I am allowed to refile my 2018 taxes as single?

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2 Lawyer Answers
D. Mathew Blackburn
D. Mathew Blackburn
Answered
  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Englewood, CO

A: "I was recently informed that I did not legally have to do that since we were not together."

That's not correct.

You have to be divorced or legally separated, not just living separate, to file any way other than Married Joint or Married Separate.

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p501.pdf

Publication 501 Page 6 Column 1

You are considered married for the whole year if, on the last day of your tax year, you and your spouse meet any one of the following tests.

...

3. You are married and living apart but not legally separated under a decree of divorce

or separate maintenance.

...

Without a court order of divorce or legal separation you're still married under the tax code.

Linda Simmons Campbell
Linda Simmons Campbell
Answered
  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • Burlington, CT

A: You could have filed married filing separately. Since you already filed married filing jointly you cannot change your filing status for 2018. Going forward if you are still married and do not want to file jointly, you can file married filing separately.

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