2003 Tax Help Archives  

Keyword: Married Filing Jointly

This is archived information that pertains only to the 2003 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

1.3 IRS Procedures: Amended Returns & Form 1040X

My wife and I filed jointly. Now I discovered that if we filed married filing separately we would have received a larger refund. How do I file amended returns to go from a joint return to married filing separate returns?

You can only make the change from filing joint to filing separately if you file the corrected returns before the original due date of the tax return. Request for this type of change will be disallowed if filed after the due date of the original return.


My husband and I filed jointly, but now we want to file married filing separately. What do we do?

These are the procedures to follow if you are making the change before the due date of the return. The person with the primary social security number (the first number listed on the return) will need to file Form 1040X (PDF), Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. Make sure you show the original filing status as married filing jointly and the new filing status as married filing separately. Start with the numbers on the joint return in Column A and show the adjustments in Column B to remove your spouse's income and deductions.

The person with the secondary social security number (the second number listed on the return) will need to file a new return with a filing status of married filing separately and show his or her own income and deductions.


1.10 IRS Procedures: Name Changes & Social Security Number Matching Issues

Do I need to change my maiden name to my married name on my social security card for us to file jointly?

You can still file Married Filing Jointly without changing your name with the Social Security Administration. However, you do need to show your maiden name on the tax return instead of your married name.

I got married last year. I have filed with the Social Security Administration for name and address change, but my Form W-2 still has my maiden name. Can I send it in as it is with our joint return or do I need to get a new W-2?

You can use the Form W-2 (PDF) you received from your employer. If the W-2 has your maiden name, all you have to do is cross it out and write in your married name. The last name on the tax return is verified through the Social Security Administration. Make sure that the name matches the name listed with the Social Security Administration. Tell your employer about the name and address change so that your current Form W-2 reflects the correct information.

1.12 IRS Procedures: Refund Inquiries

I filed a joint return and am expecting a refund. What happens if one party forges the signature to get the refund?

In cases where there is a family dispute over the proceeds of a refund, you can request a copy of the front and back of the cancelled refund check that was issued in your name. You can also request a copy of the original tax return filed under your name. Call (800) 829-1040 and follow the IRS representative's instructions for verifying the signature on your tax return or cancelled refund check.

If I file jointly and my husband owes back child support, will my refund be applied towards his obligation until his debt with children services is paid?

If you are due a refund but have not paid certain amounts you owe, such as child support, all or part of your refund can be used to pay all or part of the past-due amount. This applies to a joint return. When a joint return is filed and only one spouse owes past-due child and spousal support or a federal debt, the other spouse can be considered an injured spouse and can request his or her share of the joint refund. If this situation applies to you, file Form 8379 (PDF), Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation, to recover your share of the joint refund. You must have received income such as wages, have made tax payments such as withholding, and report the income and tax payments on the joint return.


  • Form 8379 (PDF), Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation
  • Tax Topic 203, Failure to Pay Child Support and Other Federal Obligations

1.14 IRS Procedures: Signing the Return

My husband passed away last year, and I will be filing a joint return. Are any special return notations required to indicate my husband is deceased?

If you are a surviving spouse filing a joint return and no personal representative has been appointed, you should sign the return and write in the signature area, "filing as surviving spouse." The final return should have the word "Deceased," the decedent's name, and the date of death written across the top of the return. For additional information, refer to Tax Topic 356, Decedents.


2.3 Filing Requirements/Status/Dependents/Exemptions: Dependents & Exemptions

Can a person claim a girlfriend as a wife if they have a child or do they have to be married?

You are considered married if you are living together in a common law marriage that is recognized in the state where you now live or in the state where the common law marriage began. If you are considered married, then you may file as married filing jointly and claim two personal exemptions on a joint return (assuming that neither of you are qualifying dependents on another individual's return).

If you are not considered married, then you would have to file as single unless you qualify as head of household. You may not claim your girlfriend as your dependent if your relationship violates local law.

Refer to Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information, for an explanation of the five dependency tests (5).


13.4 Aliens and U.S. Citizens Living Abroad: Nonresident Alien - General

I have an H-1 visa and my husband has an F-1 visa. We both lived in the United States all last year and had income. What kind of form should we file? Do we file our taxes separately or jointly?

You will have met the substantial presence test and will be taxed as a resident alien for last year, while your husband is likely to be a nonresident alien. Refer to Tax Topic 851 for an explanation of the relevant tax forms. You may file a joint tax return if your husband makes the choice to be treated as a resident for the entire year. Generally, however, you cannot claim tax treaty benefits as a resident alien. Please refer to Publication 519, U.S. Tax Guide for Aliens , for detailed instructions on making this choice.


13.7 Aliens and U.S. Citizens Living Abroad: U.S. Citizens Overseas

I am a U.S. citizen and married a nonresident alien last year. At that time, we filed an application with the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (BCIS, formerly INS) for my spouse's adjustment of status. We plan to file married filing jointly. Will I need to use Form 1040NR?

As a U.S. citizen, you cannot file Form 1040NR (PDF), U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return. If you make an election to file a joint return with your nonresident alien spouse (your spouse must, in turn, elect to be taxed as U.S. resident), file Form 1040 (PDF), U.S. Individual Income Tax Return (or Form 1040A (PDF) or Form 1040EZ (PDF) if otherwise applicable), and report both incomes from worldwide sources.

You will need to get an ITIN for your spouse. To apply for an ITIN, file Form W-7 (PDF), Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.


  • Form 1040NR (PDF), U.S. Nonresident Alien Income Tax Return
  • Form 1040 (PDF), U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
  • Form W-7 (PDF), Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
  • Tax Topic 857, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number - Form W-7

14.1 Electronic Filing (e-file) and TeleFile: Age/Name/SSN Rejects, Errors, Correction Procedures

We will be filing a joint tax return. Can we file our return electronically?

Yes. Filing your return electronically is faster, safer, and more accurate than mailing your tax return because it is transmitted over telephone lines directly to an IRS computer. Refer to Tax Topic 252, Electronic Filing, for more information.


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