Question
If I lived apart from my spouse from July 10 to December 31 but wasn't divorced or legally separated at the end of the year, can I file as head of household? Will my filing status allow me to claim a credit for childcare expenses and the earned income tax credit if I have a qualifying child?
Answer

No, you can't file as head of household because you weren't considered unmarried at the end of the tax year. You're considered unmarried at the end of a tax year only if you're legally separated or your spouse isn't a member of your household for the last 6 months of the tax year.

Your filing status for the year will be either married filing separately or married filing jointly.

  • If you use the married filing separately filing status, you can't claim the earned income tax credit or the credit for childcare expenses.
  • You may be eligible to claim these credits if you decide to file a joint return with your spouse.

See What is My Filing Status? and Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information, for information about filing status.

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