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For those who’re simply becoming a member of us, half one on this collection explains the fundamentals of Kind 1040-X, Amended U.S. Particular person Revenue Tax Return, previously Kind 1040X. It additionally provides recommendation on the right way to submit a 1040-X.

Change of submitting standing. Let’s suppose a married couple skilled marital issues and determined to file separate 1040s for 2020. Now they’ve reconciled and might save taxes in the event that they file collectively for that yr. One other married couple may file individually as a result of one partner has a comparatively low adjusted gross earnings and vital medical bills (deductible solely to the extent they exceed 7.5 p.c of AGI). The opposite partner’s AGI was greater and her medical outlays had been nominal.

Whereas the legislation requires {couples} who file separate returns and reside collectively in the course of the taxable yr, even for only a single day, to declare all of their Social Safety advantages as reportable earnings, {couples} who file collectively at all times escape taxes on at the very least 15 p.c of their advantages and sometimes sidestep taxes utterly.

Is it okay for these {couples} to modify from separate to joint returns? Sure, supplied they file their 1040-Xs by the suitable deadline. What about {couples} who file collectively however need to swap to separate? They’ll achieve this provided that they file 1040-Xs earlier than the due date for the yr in query.

The IRS spells out in meticulous element what must be performed when a pair has filed collectively however needs to alter to married submitting individually earlier than the submitting deadline has handed. It requires the 2 spouses to take completely different paths: the partner whose Social Safety Quantity seems first on a 1040 has to file a 1040-X; the opposite partner recordsdata a brand new 1040.

Usually, the IRS gained’t permit {couples} to modify as soon as the submitting deadline has handed. Each spouses stay sure by their election to file joint returns. Stripped of the legalese, somebody who decides to file collectively after which divorces can’t disavow a joint 1040 and file individually, in order to compel an ex-mate to shell out extra for taxes.

Divorce versus annulment: the massive tax distinction. There’s a distinction between a divorce and an annulment. The courts grant a divorce to mark the top of a wedding that was legitimate when entered into, whereas an annulment is for a wedding that at no time was legitimate, as when one of many events was beneath the age of consent on the time of the wedding.

To a few solely within the quickest approach to untie the knot, the query could appear to be an unimportant technicality. These watchful souls on the IRS, nonetheless, assume that there’s an necessary distinction when 1040 time rolls round. 

Income Ruling 76-255 spells out the distinction. An annulment is retroactive; it’s as if the couple was by no means married. Outcome: that they had no proper to make the election to file joint 1040s that’s approved by Inside Income Code Part 7703.

An instance: Let’s say a pair married in 2020 and filed collectively for that yr; nonetheless, after the submitting deadline, their marriage was annulled. As a result of the annulment decree declared their marriage to be null and void from its very inception, the IRS considers them to be single on the finish of 2020.

Put extra plainly, it’s okay for these events to file a joint 1040 provided that they’re legally married as of Dec. 31 of 2020. Due to this fact, cautions the IRS, they should “undo” any joint returns filed for prior tax years by submitting 1040-Xs as single filers. Translation: the IRS may dun them for added taxes and curiosity.

Ruling 76-255 offers with the uncommon circumstance by which the IRS permits individuals who’ve filed a joint 1040 to alter their submitting standing. The ruling concerned solely a one-year marriage. Nonetheless, the idea would presumably apply whatever the marriage’s size. 

Let’s finish this column on a optimistic observe. Refunds could turn out to be out there to {couples} whose marriages had been annulled and who would’ve paid decreased taxes as single individuals.

What’s subsequent in subsequent columns. Extra on different facets of 1040-X.