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Must I File as Married?

Q: If I'm married must I file as married?

A: If you are married on the last day of the year, you must file as either Married Filing Joint, or Married Filing Separate. However, if you can meet the following rules you might be able to file as Head of Household:

(a) You do not file a joint return.

(b) You paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year.

(c) Your spouse did not live with you for even one day in your home during the last 6 months of the tax year. The spouse is considered as living in the home even if temporarily absent due to special circumstances, such as illness or business.

(d) Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, adopted child or foster child for more than half the year.

(e) You must be able to claim an exemption for the child, unless you cannot claim the exemption only because the non-custodial parent is allowed to claim the exemption.

These questions are actual inquiries submitted by taxpayers to our AARP Tax-Aide Program. The AARP Tax-Aide Program is a volunteer-run, free tax-preparation and assistance program offered to low- and middle-income taxpayers with special attention to those age 60 and older. Our volunteers are trained and IRS-certified to understand individual federal-tax issues. Our volunteers provide tax assistance as a public service and cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.


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