I have a very confusing problem. I am married and was under the impression that I could file head of household with our son and my wife could file single.=====>>Your spouse CAN NOT file her return as single status UNLESS she obtained a divorce or a decree of separate maintenance from the courts. Even though she may be estranged from you , she is still considered married unless she obtained a divorce or a decree of separate maintenance from the courts by Dec. 31 of the tax year. Your spouse can still file a joint return, either MFJ or MFS, if you agrees to file with her, even though your spouse no longer lives together.
My wife does not work. It turns out that we were supposed to file separate or jointly as married.=>Correct.
Anyway, our tax refunds would have been much bigger had we filed married jointly.==>> I think so.MFJ status usually provides the greatest tax advantages.
I need to amend my last three years but since my wife has already filed single for those years,==>>you mean she filed as MFS . if for any reason your spouse chooses to file a separate return, she is prohibited from claiming "single" as her filing status. Normally your spouse must choose "married filing separately," although in certain cases she can qualify to file as "head of household as you can.
how do the amendments work? Does the IRS automatically throw out her returns when I file my amendments?==========The irs accepts the amended returns under the new filing status , MFJ as your returns.
Because when I amend my returns, isn't the IRS going to reject my return because she already claimed herself?=========>>No.Basically, you can change your filing status by filing an amended return using Form 1040X;
If you or your spouse file a separate return, you generally can change to a joint return any time within 3 years from the due date of the separate return. This does not include any extensions. A separate return includes a return filed by you or your spouse claiming married filing separately, single, or head of household filing status.
However, Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return.