Most married couples file jointly, but some circumstances mean you need to file separately. If this is the case for you, then you will need either the 1040 or the 1040A tax forms. When filing married but separate, you cannot use the tax forms 1040EZ.
While filing jointly might lead to a lower tax liability, filing as married but filing separately can mean special rules apply to you. Most of these rules are detrimental to you and your spouse’s filing status on your 2010 IRS tax forms.
If you file separately, you do not qualify for the child care credits. You are also unable to claim Earned Income Credit (EIC) or adoption credits on your 2010 IRS tax forms. If you have elderly or disabled people in your care, you cannot take credits for their care.
Also, certain credits and deductions are reduced when you reach certain income levels. When you file separately, those income levels are lowered by half. That means instead of getting cut off for a credit at $50,000, you would lose the credit at $25,000 on your IRS tax forms.
If one spouse chooses to itemize on their IRS tax forms, the other must itemize as well. If you choose the standard deduction, the amount you can claim is roughly half if you filed jointly.
Other credits you cannot claim on your 2010 IRS tax forms if you file separately are education expenses. These include tuition and fees deductions, student loan interest, and lifetime learning credits.
If you’re retired, you may run into some issues if filing separately on your 2010 IRS tax forms. If you have a non-Roth retirement account and want to transfer it to a Roth account, you cannot if filing separately. If you or your spouse’s jobs offer a retirement plan, you may not be able to deduct your contributions to an IRA.
Needless to say, it may be better to file jointly. Talk to a tax attorney or tax preparation office to see if there’s any possible way to not file separately. They will also have the proper 1040 IRS tax forms you need to file.