Members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public...

Tax questions

March 31, 1998

Members of the Maryland Association of Certified Public Accountants are answering readers' tax questions through April 15.

Q: I separated from my husband in August, leaving me with all the bills -- mortgage, day care, etc. I want to file as head of household and claim all the deductions. By mutual agreement in our legal separation agreement, he will file married but separate and claim none of the deductions. Is this the best way to file?

A: Yes, you qualify for head of household, provided you were a legally separated individual at the end of the tax year and you meet the following test: You must have furnished more than half the cost of maintaining a household that was the main home for more than half of the year of a relative for whom you are entitled a dependency deduction. The head-of-household tax rates are fTC lower than the rates for single taxpayers or married persons who file separate tax returns. Married persons living apart may qualify for head-of-household rates. Either or both spouses can file as a head-of-household if that spouse meets all four of the following tests: 1.) files a separate return; 2.) furnished more than half of the cost of maintaining his/her household for the year; 3.) did not live with the spouse during the last six months of the year; and 4.) for over six months during the year, his/her home was the main home of the child.

Marc Strauss, Strauss & Associates, P.A., Owings Mills. The above advice is for general purposes only and is not intended as legal, accounting or tax advice. Specific situations may vary.

To ask a tax question, call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. Call 268-7736 in Anne Arundel County, 836-5028 in Harford County, 848-0338 in Carroll County. Using a Touch-Tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6225 after the greeting. You can also submit questions by e-mail through The Sun's Web site: www.sunspot.net/tax.

Selected questions will be answered in the Business section. No questions will be answered personally.

Pub Date: 3/31/98

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