To put it even more bluntly, if you file as single when you're married under the IRS definition of the term, you're committing a crime with penalties that can range as high as a $250,000 fine and three years in jail.
In short, you can't. The only way to avoid it would be to file as single, but if you're married, you can't do that. And while there's no penalty for the married filing separately tax status, filing separately usually results in even higher taxes than filing jointly.
You must submit Form 1040X, which is an amended return. You can change your filing status on this form, report your same income, then take any tax credits or deductions you qualify for under your new filing status. You have three years to amend your return, beginning from the tax due date.
If your marital status changed during the last tax year, you may wonder if you need to pull out your marriage certificate to prove you got married. The answer to that is no. The IRS uses information from the Social Security Administration to verify taxpayer information.
If you're married, you can only choose the single filing status if you live in a state with laws that confer single status on legally separated individuals.
For single filers, if the total of your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest and half of your Social Security benefits is under $25,000, you won't owe taxes on those benefits. However, for married couples filing a joint return, the threshold is $32,000 instead of double the amount for individuals.
Hidden assets, undisclosed income and other facts will always become exposed in a divorce proceeding because of the required “forensic audit.” These facts are collected and reported by forensic accountants to property determine the value of all the income and assets for “equitable distribution.” But, the Judge is ...
If you realize there was a mistake on your return, you can amend it using Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. For example, a change to your filing status, income, deductions, credits, or tax liability means you need to amend your return.
The good news is that if you accidentally choose the wrong status, you can file an amended return to correct the mistake. However, if you filed using the married filing jointly status, you can't change your status for that tax year to filing separate after the due date of the return.
You could face civil penalties.
Penalties will vary based on how much your understated your tax. If you made a simple error and the IRS adjusted it, you might not have to pay any penalty.
You can be considered as single if you have never been married, were married but then divorced, or have lost your spouse. It is possible to be single at multiple times in your life.
You'll likely receive a letter in the mail notifying you of the error, and the IRS will automatically adjust it. If, however, your mistake is more serious -- such as underreporting income -- you could be headed for an audit. Many audits start with a letter requesting more information or verification.
Will You Get Caught? The IRS, in a typical year, audits less than 1% of IRS tax returns, so the likelihood is low that you will get caught if you file head of household when you should not.
If you're legally separated – and not all states recognize this concept – you can file as a single taxpayer even if you're not divorced by December 31. In this case, the IRS accepts your decree of separation as sufficient proof that your marriage has ended.
By requesting innocent spouse relief, you can be relieved of responsibility for paying tax, interest, and penalties if your spouse (or former spouse) improperly reported items or omitted items on your tax return.
Filing as Head of Household If You're Separated
You might qualify as head of household, even if your divorce isn't final by December 31, if the IRS says you're “considered unmarried.” According to IRS rules, that means: You and your spouse stopped living together before the last six months of the tax year.
Even though marriage is largely a matter of the heart, there are often unavoidable federal and state tax implications for those who tie the knot. A married couple's income may be subject to a penalty of up to 12% if they have children and up to 4% if they don't.
Married filing separately is a tax status used by married couples who choose to record their incomes, exemptions, and deductions on separate tax returns. Some couples might benefit from filing separately, especially when one spouse has significant medical expenses or miscellaneous itemized deductions.
Filing joint typically provides married couples with the most tax breaks. Tax brackets for 2020 show that married couples filing jointly are only taxed 10% on their first $19,750 of taxable income, compared to those who file separately, who only receive this 10% rate on taxable income up to $9,875.
The IRS does check each and every tax return that is filed. If there are any discrepancies, you will be notified through the mail.
Amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process and up to three weeks from the date of mailing to show up in the system. Before that time, there's no need to call the IRS unless the tool specifically tells the taxpayer to do so.
If you file an incorrect tax return, the IRS will not assess a penalty if it owes you a refund. You can even claim your refund late by filing an amended tax return within three years.
There's no tax penalty for filing as head of household while you're married.