The Concept of Being Married, But Considered Unmarried For Tax Purposes

The general rule for married taxpayers filing their tax returns is that they can only file Married Filing Jointly (MFJ) or Married Filing Separately (MFS). There is, however, a very important exception to this rule. If you are married and separated from your spouse, under tax law you may be considered unmarried if certain conditions are met. This means that you could qualify to use the Head Of Household filing status instead of MFS, and will not be subject to the disadvantages associated with the MFS filing status.

Under tax law, you can be considered unmarried if you meet all the following tests:

• Obviously, you must intend to file a separate return from your spouse.
• You must have paid more than half the costs of keeping up a home for the tax year.
• You must not have lived with your spouse at any time during the last 6 months of the tax year.
• Your home was the main home for your child, stepchild, or eligible foster child for more than half of the year.
• You must be able to claim an exemption for the child. (You still meet this test if the child was not claimed because you allowed the non-custodial parent to claim the exemption for the child.)

Taking advantage of this tax break will ensure that you will be able to claim all the tax benefits you couldn’t claim using the MFS filing status, and you will be taxed at a lower rate. The primary objective of this article is to empower taxpayers to learn to do their own taxes. So for more information on this tax break, grab yourself a copy of “Doing Your Own Taxes is as Easy as 1, 2, 3,” ($6.98) on


Milton G Boothe is an IRS Enrolled Agent with over twenty years of tax and financial accounting experience, including several years at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He is also a British certified Chartered Accountant. He is currently employed in private tax practices where he helps people resolve their tax problems, minimize their taxes, and routinely represents the interests of taxpayers before the Internal Revenue Service. As an Enrolled Agent (EA) Boothe is a federally-authorized tax practitioner who has technical expertise in the field of taxation and who is empowered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury to represent taxpayers before all administrative levels of the IRS for audits, collections, and appeals.
Milton G Boothe is also the author of several tax publications, wherein he encourages people to empower themselves by learning to do their own taxes.

One thought on “The Concept of Being Married, But Considered Unmarried For Tax Purposes

  1. Avatar Daniel Gray says:

    Some of my Canadian clients married to NRA spouses file HOH as IRS states they can be considered unmarried for such purpose. Can result in taxpayer getting ACTC refund even though husband is a millionaire.

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