Married Filing Separately

In most cases, payments will range from $300 to $600 for individuals and $600 to $1,200 for joint filers. Taxpayers may receive $300 for each qualifying child. Payments could be less, depending on tax liabilty and Adjusted Gross Income. Phaseout reduction begins at $75,000 for single filers and $150,000 for joint filers.

Examples of how the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008 may affect taxpayers who are married but file separately, with or without children who qualify for the child tax credit payment:

1) Married, no children, filing separately; both have valid Social Security numbers (SSNs)

Married couple, no children. They choose to file separate tax returns, each using the Married Filing Separately (MFS) filing status. Taxpayer A has adjusted gross income (AGI) of $7,000, none of which is earned income or other qualifying income; Taxpayer B has AGI of $12,000 and net income tax liability of $328.

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $0 (because they have no net income tax liability and no qualifying income)
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $328 (limited to their net income tax liability)

Note — if this couple files jointly, and their joint net income tax liability is at least $1, their economic stimulus payment would be $600.

2) Married, no children, filing separately; both have valid SSNs

Married couple, no children. They choose to file separate tax returns, each using the Married Filing Separately filing status. Taxpayer A has AGI of $7,000, including $5,000 of earned income; Taxpayer B has AGI of $12,000 and net income tax liability of $328.

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $300 (they have no net income tax liability; however, they have at least $3,000 in earned income)
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $328 (limited to their net income tax liability)

Note — if this couple files jointly, their economic stimulus payment would be $600.

3) Married, no children, filing separately; both have valid SSNs

Married couple, no children. They choose to file separate tax returns, each using the Married Filing Separately filing status. Taxpayer A has AGI of $25,000; Taxpayer B has AGI of $26,000. Taxpayer A and Taxpayer B each have a net income tax liability in excess of $600.

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $600
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $600

Note — if this couple files jointly and their joint net income tax liability exceeds $1,200, their economic stimulus payment would be $1,200.

4) Married, no children, filing separately; both have valid SSNs

Married couple, no children. They choose to file separate tax returns, each using the Married Filing Separately filing status. Taxpayer A has AGI of $80,000; Taxpayer B has AGI of $70,000. Taxpayer A and Taxpayer B each have a net income tax liability in excess of $600.

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $350 (basic economic stimulus payment of $600, phased down $250 because their AGI exceeds $75,000)
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $600

Note — if this couple files jointly, and their joint net income tax liability exceeds $1,200, their economic stimulus payment would be $1,200.

5) Married, two children, filing separately; all have valid SSNs

Married couple, two qualifying children. They choose to file separate tax returns, each using the Married Filing Separately filing status. They each claim one of the two children. Taxpayer A has AGI of $15,000 and net income tax liability of $286; Taxpayer B has AGI of $25,000 and net income tax liability in excess of $600.

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $600 {basic economic stimulus payment of $300 (limited by their net income tax liability of $286, but raised to the minimum of $300), plus child amount of $300}
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $900 (basic economic stimulus payment of $600, plus child amount of $300)

Note — if this couple files jointly, and their joint net income tax liability exceeds $1,200, their economic stimulus payment would be $1,800 (basic economic stimulus payment of $1,200, plus child amount of $600).

6) Married, two children, filing separately; all have valid SSNs

Married couple, two qualifying children. They choose to file separate tax returns, each using the Married Filing Separately filing status. They each claim one of the two children. Taxpayer A has AGI of $80,000; Taxpayer B has AGI of $70,000.  Taxpayer A and Taxpayer B each have a net income tax liability in excess of $600.

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $650 (basic economic stimulus paymentof $600, plus child amount of $300; total $900, then phased down $250 because their AGI exceeds $75,000)
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $900 (basic economic stimulus payment of $600, plus child amount of $300)

Note — if this couple files jointly, and their joint net income tax liability exceeds $1,200, their economic stimulus payment would be $1,800 (basic economic stimulus payment of $1,200, plus child amount of $600).

7) Choosing MFS instead of MFJ, one spouse with ITIN

Married couple, no children. Taxpayer B has a valid SSN, but Taxpayer A does not qualify for an SSN. Instead, the Taxpayer A has an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) which was provided by the IRS for tax filing purposes. They are each required to file for 2007 and filed separate tax returns, both using the filing status Married Filing Separately. They each meet the income tax liability and income qualifications to receive an economic stimulus payment of the maximum amount. 

  • Taxpayer A's economic stimulus payment is $0 (because they do not have a valid Social Security Number)
  • Taxpayer B's economic stimulus payment is $600

Note — if this couple files jointly, their economic stimulus payment would be $0, because they filed jointly and one of them does not have a valid Social Security number.

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