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Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Old Mar 17th 2020, 4:11 pm
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Default Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Hello all,
Just to give some reference, I moved over to the US on a CR1 on 30th December 2019 and got my social security some time at the end of January 2020. All of my UK taxes are sorted and paid for for the UK financial year. A while ago I posted on here with a question about my husband and I filing our taxes as Married Filing Jointly and I got so many kind and helpful responses. He's had a closer look into things and has told me that it's actually better this year if he files as Married Filing Separately, which I'm fine with but I just wanted to solidify two things in my mind and I'm hoping you guys might be able to help me:
1) Despite the fact that we are now living together and were living together for the last day of 2019's financial year, is he still legally able to file separately?
2) As I arrived 30th December 2019 and did not receive my SSN until Jan. 2020, I do not have to do any kind of tax return, right? May seem like a silly question because how can you declare earnings when you made nothing/didn't have the SSN for that financial year and also paid tax in your home country, but I just want to be sure that I don't have to file any kind of "I did not earn anything in the US"-type paperwork.
Many thanks in advance, guys!
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Old Mar 17th 2020, 5:13 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

1. Yes.
2. Right.

Rene
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Old Mar 17th 2020, 6:49 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Echoing, Rene, above on her answers.

Question of my own is why does your husband think it is advantageous for him to use the status "Married Filed Separately". By doing so he loses your dependent credits. Even if you married 1 hour before midnight on December 31st, you are still considered his wife for the full tax year.
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Old Mar 17th 2020, 7:27 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Originally Posted by Rete View Post
..... Question of my own is why does your husband think it is advantageous for him to use the status "Married Filed Separately". By doing so he loses your dependent credits. Even if you married 1 hour before midnight on December 31st, you are still considered his wife for the full tax year.
I agree with Rete, while filing separately is always an option for a married couple, it is rarely beneficial to do so.

Last edited by Pulaski; Mar 17th 2020 at 7:37 pm.
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Old Mar 17th 2020, 10:01 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Thank you all for putting my mind at rest. Excellent question about the better benefits of MFJ. My husband looked at both options and found that actually there wasn't such a huge difference in the estimates as to what he'd get back either way. Whether he's done it accurately or not is another thing entirely, however! As it's a somewhat easier process to just file MFS this year, he's said we'll do that for this year and then file jointly from this financial year onwards. We'll see if he has a change of heart between now and April 1st!
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Old Mar 17th 2020, 10:17 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Originally Posted by vivid291 View Post
Thank you all for putting my mind at rest. Excellent question about the better benefits of MFJ. My husband looked at both options and found that actually there wasn't such a huge difference in the estimates as to what he'd get back either way. Whether he's done it accurately or not is another thing entirely, however! As it's a somewhat easier process to just file MFS this year, he's said we'll do that for this year and then file jointly from this financial year onwards. We'll see if he has a change of heart between now and April 1st!

The Feds have just extended the tax payment date to 90 days after April 15th.

Last edited by Rete; Mar 17th 2020 at 10:51 pm.
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Old Mar 17th 2020, 10:18 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Originally Posted by vivid291 View Post
Thank you all for putting my mind at rest. Excellent question about the better benefits of MFJ. My husband looked at both options ....
What do you mean by "looked at both options"? At very least he should use one of the leading tax preparation software packages to compare the impact of filing separately v filing jointly, because if you file jointly all your "standard deduction" (personal allowance) should transfer to your husband. In other words he should get his first $24k tax free if he files jointly, compared to only getting the first $12k tax free if he files separately. All the tax bands double in width as well when you file jointly.

There are other differences, but the benefit of your husband getting your standard deduction to set against his tax bill is enough of an advantage to make it unlikely that filing separately is beneficial.

Last edited by Pulaski; Mar 17th 2020 at 10:22 pm.
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Old Mar 18th 2020, 1:48 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

For tax purposes you did not exist in 2019. You did not have social security number, therefore you could not file taxes. Also, there is a question of how long did you live in a given household in given calendar year, 12 months or less. Either way, I see no reason why you should file taxes for 2019.
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Old Mar 18th 2020, 2:11 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Originally Posted by talkto_menow View Post
For tax purposes you did not exist in 2019. You did not have social security number, therefore you could not file taxes. Also, there is a question of how long did you live in a given household in given calendar year, 12 months or less. Either way, I see no reason why you should file taxes for 2019.
Whether or not you had an SSN is not a determinant as to whether you are required to, or can file a tax return. There are plenty of people who don't have an SSN but who live and work in the US, and are therefore required by the IRS to file a tax return, and they can do so using an ITN, which is similar to, but distinct from an SSN.

And even when I lived in the UK it would have been possible for my wife to file jointly, although we couldn't find any reason for her to do so, and I would have needed an ITN for her to have included me on her return.

Last edited by Pulaski; Mar 18th 2020 at 2:14 pm.
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Old Mar 18th 2020, 3:14 pm
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Default Re: Do I have to file a tax return and can my spouse file separately?

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
Whether or not you had an SSN is not a determinant as to whether you are required to, or can file a tax return. There are plenty of people who don't have an SSN but who live and work in the US, and are therefore required by the IRS to file a tax return, and they can do so using an ITN, which is similar to, but distinct from an SSN.

And even when I lived in the UK it would have been possible for my wife to file jointly, although we couldn't find any reason for her to do so, and I would have needed an ITN for her to have included me on her return.
I agree about ITN, however she could not obtain one while she in the process of getting her SSN
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