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Wife filed as single and Husband didn't file at all

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    Wife filed as single and Husband didn't file at all

    I've got a new client and a situation I've never encountered.

    Couple married in 2017. Wife filed 2017 as Single. Husband didn't file anything.

    Obviously I have to amend 2017 for her and layer in his income and change filing status.

    But the issue I have is that I typically put Husband first and Wife as second on the tax returns I prepare.

    How do I amend the wife's return with her SSN and get it so the husband's name is now included and is first?

    Thanks.

    #2
    Originally posted by Omega View Post
    I've got a new client and a situation I've never encountered.

    Couple married in 2017. Wife filed 2017 as Single. Husband didn't file anything.

    Obviously I have to amend 2017 for her and layer in his income and change filing status.

    But the issue I have is that I typically put Husband first and Wife as second on the tax returns I prepare.

    How do I amend the wife's return with her SSN and get it so the husband's name is now included and is first?

    Thanks.
    You dont. You just add him as the spouse. If you want to change it for 2019, go for it.

    Chris

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      #3
      You have to amend the wife's return and you have to list her first. No problem with the IRS. I have had women who are single and have a business with assets and depreciation. They marry, and I continue using them first and had the new husband as the spouse.
      Jiggers, EA

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        #4
        Ok, thank you both. I will add the husband for 2017 and switch spots for 2018. Just a little bit of a pain as I would have to have 2 different client numbers (it is the SSN) and can't then roll the 2017 into the 2018. I'd have to enter all the information over again. Or I suppose I could leave the client number as the wife's SSN and just change the information around in the client screen as to who is listed first.

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          #5
          Can you roll 2017 into 2018 and THEN change the order? We don't know what software you use. If you tell us, perhaps someone has had this issue in the same software.

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            #6
            Depending on your software, if you do each as MFS and then change it to joint maybe the program will ask "whom do you wish to be listed as primary"?

            Besides, sometimes a hypothetical MFS can reveal some major state tax advantages.

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              #7
              Software is Lacerte. I figured I would put the husband's SSN (actually you can put only 8 of the 9 digits) as the client number. Then I can proforma 2017 into 2018, then switch the Taxpayer/Spouse information in the client info screen. Also taking care to check off the "spouse" box for specific rolled forward W2, 1099 etc. Probably won't be too much of a chore. Thanks for the help.

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                #8
                Was a 2018 return files as MFJ or MFS?

                If husband has not filed either 2017 or 2018, I would amend 2107 and add the husband below the wife.

                I have done this before and no issue with IRS or state.
                Taxes after all are the dues that we pay for the privileges of membership in an organized society. - FDR

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                  #9
                  2018 was not yet filed. So that's why I'm thinking amend 2017, roll into 2018, flip the order and file 2018.

                  Client came to me from another CPA who prepared a draft of 2018, didn't ask for 2017 so didn't know only 1 spouse filed and filed it as single even though married. Then went radio silent. Clients got frustrated and found their way to me. I'm baffled the other accountant didn't ask for a prior year return.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Omega View Post
                    2018 was not yet filed. So that's why I'm thinking amend 2017, roll into 2018, flip the order and file 2018.

                    Client came to me from another CPA who prepared a draft of 2018, didn't ask for 2017 so didn't know only 1 spouse filed and filed it as single even though married. Then went radio silent. Clients got frustrated and found their way to me. I'm baffled the other accountant didn't ask for a prior year return.
                    Maybe the CPA who prepared the draft learned something that caused him/her to decide not to be involved. Maybe the client learned from the experience not to tell you about whatever that might be. Or maybe it was just a busy office and these folks fell through the cracks. Maybe the client didn't provide everything the CPA requested. In any case, you'd be smart to do some very through research. There might be a reason the husband didn't file. Was anybody self employed or otherwise had an unusual filing situation? Any children in the picture and/or EIC, ACA issues, etc?
                    "The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectful" - John Kenneth Galbraith

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Very good thoughts to consider, JohnH. I spoke to both H and W and he is a busy Wall St. type, simply didn't bother. I truly think it boiled down to laziness. But both are aware that they need a pro that will be responsive and help them - 2017 was self prepared (and wrong), 2018 was partially prepped and the CPA abandoned them.

                      Their return has high W-2 incomes, NYC residents, no kids, <$50 dividends, virtually nothing to it. They do seem to be a little lax in getting back to me promptly. I've interviewed the wife via phone, she seems to be clear that they work but have virtually nothing in investments (understandable since NYC rent is sky high).

                      More or less - plain vanilla return with lack of understanding and procrastination...but knowing they need to be helped. Another client of mine is her co-worker and referred me when she mentioned needing help. He told her I'd be the guy to straighten it out with a sense of urgency.

                      I'd love to ask the other CPA but at this point he isn't aware that they are going elsewhere.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        I'd want to see at least three prior years of returns from both of them, and I'd pull transcripts to see if anything's missing, for potential clients like these. (Was husband filing before they got married?) I'd insist they file correctly now and going forward, and I'd put my strong recommendation re amending prior returns in writing and have them sign it (or, at least, email to them with a reply that they received my recommendations).

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                          #13
                          Listen to what Lion says. . .
                          I would also ask for copies of the most recent (filed) tax returns for the husband.
                          There could be MUCH more to the story than merely being "a busy Wall St. type."
                          Obviously you will need to amend the wife's "single" return, but you may NOT want to automatically toss in the husband's income etc and file a joint return.
                          If there are warning flags on the husband's older returns and overall tax history, then don't overlook the fact that married filing separately returns for the couple could be in order.

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                            #14
                            Because these are new clients and husband is so busy and possibly not thorough when it comes to his taxes, I would definitely pull transcripts. He may have amended a past return and any copies he provides may not include amended returns, letters received from IRS or changes IRS may have made. I just feel it is best for you to have an accurate starting point and knowledge of all income reported to IRS for the years he did file.

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