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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
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    4

    Default Filing Status (Married Filing Separately vs Jointly)

    Have there been any changes in the law for tax year 2019 regarding the regulations for filing Jointly vs. Separately?

    I know in prior years, filing separately eliminated the exemptions on Social Security to a great extent. Have they changed that?

    I'm considering (yeah, waffling back and forth) divorce. If I do it this year (2019), it is highly unlikely it will be over before the end of the year. If my wife refuses to file jointly for this year, then I am forced to file separately, which will cost a few thousand in tax. I have no way of knowing if she will or won't until it happens, in which case it will be too late. We're in Florida, so there supposedly are no separation agreements, which is one of the elements which theoretically, in another state, would allow me to be single as far as IRS.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,660

    Default Re: Filing Status (Married Filing Separately vs Jointly)

    Quote Quoting REDinFL
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    Have there been any changes in the law for tax year 2019 regarding the regulations for filing Jointly vs. Separately?
    As far as I know there have been no changes to those rules.

    I know in prior years, filing separately eliminated the exemptions on Social Security to a great extent. Have they changed that?
    No, if you file married filing separately 85% of your Social Security becomes taxable income, even if it would normally not be taxable due to income levels.

    I'm considering (yeah, waffling back and forth) divorce. If I do it this year (2019), it is highly unlikely it will be over before the end of the year. If my wife refuses to file jointly for this year, then I am forced to file separately, which will cost a few thousand in tax. I have no way of knowing if she will or won't until it happens, in which case it will be too late. We're in Florida, so there supposedly are no separation agreements, which is one of the elements which theoretically, in another state, would allow me to be single as far as IRS.
    Does your wife work? Have any kind of substantial income of her own? Do the two of you typical owe taxes when you file jointly? Is that due to income of yours that does not have any withholding?

    Typically, in a divorce situation a tax professional would normally not advise someone to file separately (if the divorce was not final prior to 12/31), unless that would result in a significant tax liability that the party would not want to be on the hook for with the IRS.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    7,426

    Default Re: Filing Status (Married Filing Separately vs Jointly)

    Quote Quoting REDinFL
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    Have there been any changes in the law for tax year 2019 regarding the regulations for filing Jointly vs. Separately?
    No. The rules are the same as for 2018. See IRS publication 501 for the details on the requirements for each filing status.

    Quote Quoting REDinFL
    View Post
    I know in prior years, filing separately eliminated the exemptions on Social Security to a great extent. Have they changed that?

    I don't know what you mean by "exemptions on Social Security". However, the taxation of Social Security benefits is covered in IRS Publication 915. See page 3 where it notes that if your filing status is married filing separately and you lived with your spouse at any time (even just one day) during the year then your base amount for determining what portion of your SSA income is taxable is 0. This means that no matter your total income 85% of your SSA benefits will be taxable, as llworking noted. If that is not what you wanted to know and the publication doesn't answer it then you'll need to be more clear on what you are asking.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2019
    Posts
    4

    Default Re: Filing Status (Married Filing Separately vs Jointly)

    Thanks for both replies. That's what I needed to know. Perhaps I used the wrong word "exemption" - I was doing this off the top of my head, and "exclusion" is more appropriate. I am aware of the 85% as the standard amount, at the top of a sliding scale. I was referring to the exclusions for Single and Married Jointly. llworking, that's a good reminder on the tax changes affecting alimony. They wouldn't affect me, but anyone reading this could be helped.

    The greater part of my income is Social Security, and there is no separation agreement in FL, I'm told. Unless the divorce is finalized by December 31st, I'd be better off filing next year - early. I'll want to get the tax done first, and file in Feb., then. I cannot be 100% sure the stbx will cooperate with a MFJ; if I'm forced to file MFS, i'll be hit with a lot of tax because the SS income would not be excluded. I'll file MFJ, and file for divorce. It'll be done by the end of next year, I'm sure, and I'll be single on the last day of the year.

    Thanks for the info and advice. I had hoped that odd treatment in MFJ was gone.

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