Tax Filing Status

My wife and I are separated in NC. I moved out in Feb/08 and we have an agreement that was signed in the presence of a lawyer, but it was not court ordered, nor did the lawyer file a copy with the courts. We are still not divorced.

It would be a great benefit to us both if we could file our taxes for 2008 as a joint couple. We were in fact married at the end of 2008, but lived apart.

My question is can we legally file a joint return?

Thank you,

Kernersville, NC

As long as you are still legally married you may file jointly.

What if you have been separated since March 2008? Can you file as single or does it have married filing separately? Filing jointly is not an option for us.

If you are still legally married you must either file married separate or married jointly. You can not file single. Filing married joint during separation is only a problem that the returns come back to one spouse…
If you are filing jointly then that would be an asset that would need to be divided. If you file married separate, then the returns (if any) would be sent separately.
If your divorce is finalized within the first 6 months of the year, you can file single/head of household, within the last 6 months of the year it’s best to ask the IRS. There should be a local office that has an information line or you can go online to find “filing status requirements”.

If you are not yet divorced your only options are married filing separately, or married filing jointly.

I’m curious about this topic because the way I read the instructions for filing Head of Household, I qualified although not yet divorced.
"This filing status is for unmarried individuals who provide a home for certain other persons. (Some married persons who live apart are considered unmarried…)

It says "even if you were not divorced or legally separated at the end of 2008, you are considered unmarried if all the following apply:

  1. you lived apart from your spouse for the last 6 months of 2008.
  2. You file a separate return from your spouse
  3. You paid over half the cost of keeping up your home for 2008
  4. Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, forst child for more than half of 2008
  5. You can claimi this child as your dependent…"

You CAN claim Head of Household if you meet ALL the conditions. You can find it on the IRS website under publication 501.

I claimed HofH for the year I was separated, but not divorced. I had primary custody of the children. My stepfather did my taxes…he’s a CPA.