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  #1  
January 15th, 2007, 03:18 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Alberta, Canada
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Hey ladies, it's been a few weeks since I've posted anything, but I have been reading lots! Keep up the good work to zachsmama and bensmom, you ladies are awesome :]

But now, on to my question lol....

When I file my 2006 taxes [I plan on doing so as soon as possible], should I file as single or common-law? Matt and I have only been living together since December 1st, but because we're expecting a child together, we're already considered common-law. Does anyone know about the benefits of filing as single vs common law one way or the other?

Thanks for all the help you can provide, as usual :] Take care,

Becky
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  #2  
January 15th, 2007, 03:36 PM
~Jess~'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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I've never heard of filing as a common-law marriage. Are you in the US?

Here are the possible filing status options:
http://www.expresstaxrefund.com/faq/001/filing-status/

Quote:
What are my Filing Status options?


Following are definitions of each filing status and some general rules:

Single - You fall in the "singles" category if you arenít married at year-end and donít qualify to use the lower surviving-spouse or head-of-household rates.



Married Filing a Joint Return - If you are married on the last day of the year, you can file a joint return. This applies even if you are separated from your spouse and pursuing a divorce. Unless the divorce is final by the end of the year, the IRS considers you married, and you canít file a return as a single taxpayer. If you were married for any part of the year but were widowed at year-end you file a joint return for yourself and your deceased spouse.



Surviving Spouse - For up to two years after the year in which your spouse dies you may be able to continue using the joint-return rates rather than moving immediately into higher brackets. Not every widow and widower qualifies, though. Most, in fact, do not.



Head of Household - This category causes a lot confusion, particularly among young people starting out on their own. Generally, head-of-household status is used by divorced women with small children at home. But it can also pay off for divorced or widowed parents whose grown children return to the nest after college or following a divorce. To earn the head-of-household title and the right to use the lower-than-single tax rates, you basically have to be providing a home for a child or other relative. To qualify:

* You must be unmarried at the end of the year. (Even if youíre legally married at year-end you can pass this test under a special "abandoned spouse" rule if your spouse didnít live with you during the last six months of the year.)
* You must pay more than half the cost of keeping up the principal home for yourself and a child or other relative you can claim as a dependent. If the child (including a grandchild, stepchild or adopted child) is unmarried, he or she doesnít have to qualify as your dependent to earn you head-of-household status. Any other relative living with you, however, must pass the dependency tests.
* Since the dependency test doesnít apply when single children are involved, you can claim this tax-saving status regardless of how much money the boomerang child makes ó as long as you meet the other tests.
* In most cases, you and the child or other relative must share the same house for more than six months of the year. There is an exception, however, if you are paying more than half the cost of maintaining a home for your dependent mother or father for the entire year. In that case, he or she does not have to live with you for you to qualify for head-of-household tax status. If you are paying more than half the cost of a nursing home for your dependent parent, for example, you can qualify. When figuring whether you pay more than half the cost of maintaining a home, count such expenses as rent or mortgage interest, taxes, insurance on the home, repairs, utilities, domestic help and food eaten at home. Donít count the cost of clothing, education, medical treatment, vacations, life insurance or transportation.
* Note: If you qualify as a surviving spouse, you may be able to meet the head-of-household test once your two-year use of the joint rates runs out. Head-of-household rates are lower than those that apply to singles.



Married Filing Separately - This filing status almost never makes sense. The rare circumstances in which it can pay off usually involve a husband and wife with similar incomes who by splitting the income on separate returns can claim deductions that would elude them on a joint return. One often-cited reason for filing separate returns, for example, is if one spouse has significant medical bills. Such expenses are deductible only to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of adjusted gross income. Splitting income on separate returns might squeeze out a bigger medical deduction for one spouse, but only in very special circumstances would the tax savings offset the cost of skipping the advantages that come by filing a joint return. There are many factors to consider, some costly, before filing separately:

* One spouse canít claim the standard deduction if the other itemizes. If one itemizes, both must.
* On separate returns, you canít claim the child-care credit.
* The $25,000 passive-loss allowance for active rental real estate investors, is not allowed on separate returns.[/b]
I don't think you can file "married filing jointly (or separately)" if you're not married. Since you don't have a child yet (they aren't deductible until after they are born), then you can't file "head of household," so that just leaves the regular single return. I searched www.irs.com for info on common-law marriage and couldn't come up with anything, which makes me think that it's a non-issue. Maybe you'll be able to find something tho. I was under the impression that a couple had to be living together for at least 7 years to be considered common-law.
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  #3  
January 15th, 2007, 04:44 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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and thanks for the compliments.
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  #4  
January 15th, 2007, 08:05 PM
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I knew they had it in Iowa (I lived there a while), so I looked up common law:

Quote:
Common-law marriage can still be contracted in the following jurisdictions: Alabama, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, New Hampshire (posthumously), Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah. Note there is no such thing as "common-law divorce" ó that is, you can't get out of a common-law marriage as easily as you can get into one. Only the contract of the marriage is irregular; everything else about the marriage is perfectly regular. People who marry per the old common law tradition must petition the appropriate court in their state for a dissolution of marriage.

The situation in Pennsylvania became unclear in 2003 when an intermediate appellate court purported to abolish common-law marriage (PNC Bank Corporation v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board (Stamos), 831 A.2d 1269 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2003)) even though the state Supreme Court had recognized (albeit somewhat reluctantly) the validity of common-law marriages only five years before. (Staudenmayer v. Staudenmayer, 552 Pa. 253, 714 A.2d 1016 (1998).) The Pennsylvania legislature resolved most of the uncertainty by abolishing common-law marriages entered into after January 1, 2005. (Act 144 of 2004, amending 23 Pa.C.S. Section 1103.) However, it is still not certain whether Pennsylvania courts will recognize common-law marriages entered into after the date of the Stamos decision and before the effective date of the statute (i.e., after September 17, 2003, and on or before January 1, 2005), because the other intermediate appellate court has suggested that it might not follow the Stamos decision. (Compare Bell v. Ferraro, 2004 PA Super 144, 849 A.2d 1233 (4/28/2004), with Stackhouse v. Stackhouse, 2004 PA Super 427, 862 A.2d 102 (11/10/2004).)

Common-law marriage can no longer be contracted in the following states, as of the dates given: Alaska (1917), Arizona (1913), California (1895), Florida (1968), Georgia (1997), Hawaii (1920), Idaho (1996), Illinois (1905), Indiana (1958), Kentucky (1852), Maine (1652, when it became part of Massachusetts; then a state, 1820), Massachusetts (1646), Michigan (1957), Minnesota (1941), Mississippi (1956), Missouri (1921), Nebraska (1923), Nevada (1943), New Mexico (1860), New York (1933, also 1902-1908), New Jersey (1939), North Dakota (1890), Ohio (1991), Pennsylvania (2005), South Dakota (1959), and Wisconsin (1917).

The following states never permitted common-law marriage: Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. Note that Louisiana is a French civil or code law jurisdiction, not an English common law jurisdiction. As such, it is a former Council of Trent jurisdiction and common-law marriage was never known there.

Nevertheless, all states ó including those that have abolished common-law marriage ó continue to recognise common-law marriages lawfully contracted in those U.S. jurisdictions that still permit this irregular contract of a marriage. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the result of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution ó which has never been held to require one state to recognize marriages created under the law of another, and is completely irrelevant to common-law marriages to start with because there is no sister-state public act, public record or judicial proceeding to recognise pursuant to the clause. Rather, states recognise each other's marriages, and those from foreign countries, under their own conflict and choice-of-law rules. In general, a marriage that is validly contracted in the foreign state will be recognized as valid in the forum state, unless the marriage is odious to the public policy of the forum state.

This may have changed in California, however, as an unintended consequence of Proposition 22. This was a voter initiative statute intended to deny California recognition to sister-state same-sex marriages (which already could not be performed in California), but the language of the initiative was sufficiently broad that it could be construed to outlaw recognition of sister-state common law marriages between men and women, as well as sister-state same-sex marriages. The question has not yet been litigated.

The requirements for a common-law marriage to be valid differ from state to state:[/b]
You can see the rest for yourself at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common-law_marriage

If you are in a state that has common law, and you are under the stipulations, then you have to file married filing joint or married filing seperate, I think... since a common law marriage is just as binding as a statutory marriage.





PS... funny story... but really it's not...

I was living with my 'boyfriend' and I signed his credit cards all the time as Kimberly ________(his last name). We had to get a divorce before I could get "remarried."
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  #5  
January 15th, 2007, 08:17 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Wow! I'd never heard that! Maybe it's because I grew up in Arkansas. Thanks for the info!
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  #6  
January 15th, 2007, 09:01 PM
~Jess~'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Whoops! Just checked, looks like you're in Canada. I don't know anything about taxes in Canada-sorry!
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  #7  
January 16th, 2007, 03:52 AM
groovie's Avatar Mega Super Mommy
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I've heard of common-law marriages, but to be valid don't you have to be living together for a certain amount of time. I think it's 7 years here (I'm in N.C.)
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  #8  
January 16th, 2007, 08:45 AM
~Jess~'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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It's different in Canada. I believe it's only a year there, but if you have a child together, it may be less. They also don't take their spouses last name when they're married either (although that may be just 1 or 2 provinces). It's all foreign to me.
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  #9  
January 16th, 2007, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
I've heard of common-law marriages, but to be valid don't you have to be living together for a certain amount of time. I think it's 7 years here (I'm in N.C.)[/b]

NC doesn't have it at all.

I just looked for SC, though, and it only takes 30 days and being FOURTEEN YEARS OLD!!!!

some states have time factors, others don't...
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  #10  
January 16th, 2007, 11:20 AM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Quote:
I just looked for SC, though, and it only takes 30 days and being FOURTEEN YEARS OLD!!!! [/b]
That means nothing to me. I grew up in Arkansas. I have a cousin who got married to her cousin at 13, and she already had 2 biological kids by then!!!! (Yes, really. ) I haven't seen that part of the family in many, many years, so it REALLY wouldn't surprise me if she's a grandma by now.
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  #11  
January 16th, 2007, 01:52 PM
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Quote:
Quote:
I just looked for SC, though, and it only takes 30 days and being FOURTEEN YEARS OLD!!!! [/b]
That means nothing to me. I grew up in Arkansas. I have a cousin who got married to her cousin at 13, and she already had 2 biological kids by then!!!! (Yes, really. ) I haven't seen that part of the family in many, many years, so it REALLY wouldn't surprise me if she's a grandma by now.
[/b]

OMG. She had two children by 13? Are you freaking kidding me???? That's insane!
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  #12  
January 16th, 2007, 02:48 PM
~Jess~'s Avatar Platinum Supermommy
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Quote:
That means nothing to me. I grew up in Arkansas. I have a cousin who got married to her cousin at 13, and she already had 2 biological kids by then!!!! (Yes, really. ) I haven't seen that part of the family in many, many years, so it REALLY wouldn't surprise me if she's a grandma by now.[/b]
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  #13  
January 16th, 2007, 07:13 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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The youngest mother ever at the hospital where I was born was 9. LOL! That was back in the late 80's... I was in ... gosh, I dunno... 4th or 5th grade?
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  #14  
January 16th, 2007, 07:54 PM
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Quote:
The youngest mother ever at the hospital where I was born was 9. LOL! That was back in the late 80's... I was in ... gosh, I dunno... 4th or 5th grade?[/b]

I have a 9 year old! Bite yer tongue... er... yer fingers!!!
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  #15  
January 16th, 2007, 08:07 PM
BensMom's Avatar Ephesians 4:29
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Quote:
I have a 9 year old! Bite yer tongue... er... yer fingers!!! [/b]
Hey, it wasn't ME who gave birth at 9! It's just something the school nurse was quick to point out to us so that we wouldn't! I wasn't even... um... "mature" until 10!
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  #16  
January 17th, 2007, 08:30 AM
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oh my goodness that is sooo crazy! about your cousin and the 9 year old. i i wasn't "mature" until almost 14 lol. wow. so insane.
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  #17  
January 17th, 2007, 05:35 PM
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My aunt was an OB/GYN nurse (in the 1990s) and delivered the babies of several 12 year olds and even one 11 year old, whose 18 year old "husband" was there in the delivery room. If she were my DD he would have been in prison (or a full body cast, for a long time), but these were some backwards folks we're talking about.
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  #18  
January 17th, 2007, 06:54 PM
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There have been a couple 9 year old cases here over the span of say ... 20 years, but all of them were the consequence of rape. Now, 12, 13, 14+ year olds are a different story. I think 1/2 of my friends high school chemistry class (she's their teacher, and PG herself) are preggo. This is what abstinence only health education gets us around here. Crazy.
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