Separate rules for separated spouses

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in Small Business Tax

Q: We're confused about your item regarding a separated spouse who files as a "head of household" and claims the standard deduction (see 4/18/05 issue). You say that if the situation was "the other way around," the person would be required to itemize. Can you elaborate? P.B.S., via e-mail

A: Sure. In this case, we were referring to a situation in which an ex-spouse files his or her tax return using "married filing separate" status and itemizes deductions. In that case, the other spouse must also itemize deductions on his or her return. But if the ex-spouse files as a head of household and claims the standard deduction, the other spouse has a choice: He or she can claim the standard deduction or itemize deductions.

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