Ask the tax adviser
Filing status and the incarcerated spouse
Dear Tax Talk:
I have an odd question. I got married
in March, so I started to look ahead to the next year and tax filing.
But now I'm kind of thrown for a loop as to just exactly what status
I should file under. Currently, my wife is serving a sentence in
state prison. Under that circumstance, are we able to file jointly
or do I need to file separately from her?
Your question definitely is one of the oddest I've received.
Most people in your situation aren't hung up on tax-filing status.
There's nothing in the tax rules that would prevent
you from filing a joint return with an incarcerated spouse.
Perhaps you're thinking that since you aren't sharing
living expenses, you cannot share a tax return.
Even though the state may be providing more than half
of your wife's support, she still may be listed as a personal exemption
on your joint Form 1040.
You will, however, need to get her to sign the return.
You don't necessarily need to file separately from
her. But you may want to consider that option if she committed a
financial crime that would have a tax impact.
-- Posted: July 16, 2003