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Question for the Money Doctors

Question submitted on Jan 20, 2014.

Question

Trying to complete FAFSA form for my daughter and it asks how I will be filing my taxes this year. I don''t know if I should file as Head of Household or Married Filing Separately. My husband moved out Feb. 2013 and left me responsible for mortgage, utilities, cable, phone, etc. He was ordered by court to pay me maintenance each month eff. July 2013. He also paid me child support since July 2013 but based on the divorce agreement which we both just signed in January 2014, I''ve forfeited the child support so he can contribute it to our daughter''s 529 acct. It seems like I should file as Head of Household but I know nothing about taxes - he always filed them for us because he is an accountant. Thank you.

Answer

It sounds like you will qualify to file Head of Household because your spouse did not live in your home during the last 6 months of 2013.

Is your husband the owner of the 529 plan or are you the owner of the 529 plan? If you are the owner of the 529 plan, you will have control over it. However, it will be considered in the financial aid calculation. It may not be a good idea for your husband to be the owner of the 529 plan since that will give him control over the account. It sounds like your daughter is in college so please use the Age Based investment option in the 529 so it will be invested conservatively for you.

Filing as Head of Household will be more advantageous than filing Married Filing Separately since you will be using the more advantageous tax tables.

If you paid all of the mortgage and property taxes, please make sure you are deducting the entire amount.

Please file your tax returns as soon as possible so the information can be directly ported to the FAFSA form.


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