By Dean Alexander
Simple intuitive concepts get complicated once humans start thinking. Take the word love. Simple isn’t it? Now on close examination we can complicate the simple concept by asking questions. Do we mean love between a man and a woman or fashionably speaking maybe same sex love?! Is it love of a mother for a child or siblings for each other? Better yet, how about loving pets? Ultimately you can add the love of ideas in the mix. You see how I can make life miserable for you?
Determining Your Filing Status
Take the question that I posed above. Am I married for income tax purposes? What difference does it make if I married for any other purpose; I am married for income tax purposes. But the thinking people can complicate the issues as I did with love above.
I was married all year then I was divorced some time in December in that year. Am I married that year? The people of wisdom will tell you that you should file as unmarried (single or head of the household). The IRS will look at your marital status on December 31 of that year. If you are married that day you are considered married for the whole year. So if you remained single all year and just got married on December 31, you are married for the whole year.
Take another example. A clever couple discovered the piece of information that I just mentioned above. They know they will be better off if they are not married. They get divorced on December 31 and remarry on January first after restoration of their romantic mood. Remember now they are divorced on December 31. And according to the rule what the IRS cares about is December 31. How are these people considered? Married or not married? The IRS will disregard what happened and will treat the manipulating divorce as if never happened.
You see I told you things get complicated on their own initiative just because of living or because of the living species. What if you are married then the spouse dies. On December 31, you were not married. How should you file? Again contrary to the December 31 rule you are considered married on December 31.
What if you are married and estranged from your husband for years? In this case regardless of the legal status you can file single and if you have children you may file head of household which is a more beneficial status. Under normal circumstances married people must file either married filing joint or married filing separate. Some married people fraudulently split their children and each spouse illegally files as head of household.
Dean Alexander is the CEO of NFA Tax Help and has been helping clients with tax issues for over 35 years. More information is available at www.resolvemytaxes.com.