Son-In-Law Wants to Claim "Single" on Income Tax Return!!!

Updated on January 09, 2011
K.B. asks from Garland, TX
28 answers

My son-in-law stated this past weekend that he wanted to still claim "Single" on his income taxes! I have been wondering why ever since! He has been the most "untruthful" person that I have ever met and I always feel like there is an ulterior motive every time he says something! I cannot for the life of me figure out why he would want to claim single....they are married and have a baby. UGH! Any thoughts? Thanks ladies!

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So What Happened?

Thanks a bunch for all the advice! The following info is why I asked this question. He has lied about every important thing since they got together and I have trust issues and MIL issues! How do you entrust your most precious daughter to a ...? Honestly, I have stayed in the background and kept my thoughts and feelings to myself or only expressed them to my husband! my SIL's mother inadvertently let it slip in an email to me that he was married before about a month before my daughter was due to give birth! I have never been able to prove that he is divorced, even have a certified letter from the state that no divorce was registered through their office! It turns out that he was on two different dating sites talking (unbeknownst to him) with one of my daughter's sorority sisters all summer talking about...well, just about everthing! We were shocked when she contacted us with this info after discovering that he was our daughter's husband! Anyways, after his comment about the taxes, I turned to you all and did some checking on my own. He has never changed his address (ever!) from his parents home, so I advised my daugher that she should file "married, filing separate" and claim the baby. My daugher is a teacher so she has her own income and has not merged any insurance or banking with her husband (my husband's advice to his precious daughter!). We are weathering the drama from as far away as we can and keeping our thoughts to ourselves. We love our new grandchild and want to be as supportive as possible. Thank you everyone for your support, as you have always given me great advice!

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answers from Columbus on

He probably wants to claim single b/c they are in a higher tax bracket if they are married (assuming she works?) But he's only allowed to claim Married-filing jointly or Married-Filing Separately.

I would warn him not to mess with the IRS. They don't play games!

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2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

he can claim married filing separately.

Then they need to find out who is going to claim the baby. There are benefits to doing this. However, it must be agreed to by both parties.

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answers from Cleveland on

Honestly there is nothing wrong with it and can actually benefit your SIL family. It means they will be getting a much larger tax refund when they file. My husband actually has been listed as single on his W-4 since we were married over 5 years ago. We have two beautiful children. We also get one heck of a tax refund each year. This year we purchased a house and are now considering changing the withholding to at least married to give us a little more money in each pay check to cover our slightly larger bill load. It's not deceptive or devious in any way nor is it a way for him to come off as being single since the only people who see this are his HR at work and the IRS.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Not sure why since it is generally more beneficial to claim married and as many dependants as possible. BUT, my husband claims Single, zero dependants on his paychecks so that when it comes tax time, he claims the real Married, 3 dependants so we get a MASSIVE return. If he were to claim Married, 3 during the year we would owe money.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It may be to their benefit to do it. He may be able to take more deductions and get more $$ back. We've looked at that every year that DH and I have been married. With our jobs, we still come out better claiming as married. But I know others where that is not the case.

I wouldn't panic.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

This is totally legal. I have friends that do this. For tax purposes, sometimes it is better for married couples to file independently and file as single. I know it sounds untruthful, but it's not truly saying you ARE single, it's saying you are FILING singley.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

He can claim single for his withholdings on his W-4 which lots of people do to be sure they don't owe. When filing taxes he can only claim married filing joint or married filing seperate (assuming they are married) There are different benifits to each of those. I wouldn't consider his tax status as any kind of motive other than to file the best for him & his family.

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answers from Lincoln on

You can't claim "single", you can file "Married filing seperately". No, can't figure out why #1 He'd want to claim single and #2 why he'd tell you.
Tell your daughter to go to and do her tax return, she can compare filing "married" to filing "married filing seperately" and its all free. You pay nothing until you push the "efile" button at the end and even then its very cheap.
That way she can figure out for herself if there's a financial benefit, that will also open up a conversation between her and her husband to find out what he's thinking.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Well, when it comes to income taxes, there is the "marriage penalty", meaning you end up paying a higher tax rate because your incomes are stacked together. This may be the reason, but not knowing your son-in-law, I can't tell you that for sure. Is he planning to claim the baby as his dependent or letting your daughter claim him/her? Does your daughter work outside the home?

I don't know why he's doing this, but it is likely due to the higher tax rate. Sorry he's a shady character. :-(

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Stockton on

Sounds like you are possibly talking about how he claims at work on his
W-4 for the taxes taken out of his check? That would be so that they take out more $ and then when he files his taxes, he should get a refund. That is the only thing that I can think of. I guess if they are not good at saving money that is an option for them to be able to get a lump sum. Basically they are putting that money in a non-interest bearing savings account for the government to use as they see fit and collect interest on......if I am understanding correctly what he is saying.....



answers from Redding on

I've heard of claiming things differently on your W-4 in order to make a difference as to how much is taken out of each pay check, but but I can't figure out why a married person would claim "single" when filing their actual taxes.
Maybe he meant he wanted to file separately, as opposed to single.
Your daughter might want to call a local H&R Block office and anonymously ask if it's okay to even do that. Since they are married, if he gets in hot water over it, it will affect her.
I found out the hard way that my ex claimed our son lived with him and claimed him on his taxes. Thus, my tax return was blocked. He filed first so it looked like I was doing something fishy. I had to send our court documents and other proof that our son lives with me and I had to wait until it was all sorted out to get my refund. My ex got in BIG trouble.

I hope it works out okay.



answers from Minneapolis on

Maybe he just means on the W-4 form which tells your workplace how much to take out of each paycheck. Years ago my husband and I claimed single with 0 dependents because we were both working full time and had three children but enough taxes did not come out claiming even married -0. It depends on how your income falls in their various tax categories. We did not want to owe taxes at tax time because we were not good savers so this was an easy way to make sure we were covered come April 15th. It is perfectly legal, the IRS is more than happy to hold the money for you.


answers from Dover on

Makes no sense unless he is trying to file HEAD OF HOUSEHOLD for the extra tax credits that brings.


answers from Chicago on

You can only file as single if you are unmarried or considered unmarried for the entire year. Have they been married all of 2010 or was he still single for part of the year? If he was, he can still file single. Otherwise, he is breaking the law.

My thoughts? I don't think there's anything you can do about this. I can't remember ever discussing my tax returns with my inlaws. I don't know why he would tell you this, but if I were you I'd try to forget about it.



answers from Dallas on

It is a tax strategy to have more taken out of your check.



answers from Dallas on

Why don't you simply ask him what the difference is in real money? Obviously he's calculated both ways of filing. Or not.



answers from Phoenix on

My first thought he planning on divorcing his wife, so he can claim in the future that he was never married, legally, to her? And his tax returns prove it?

I could tell some unbelievable stories from the serious deviant multi-millionaire tax evaders that run in my family. It makes me sick to my stomach how much money means to some people. It means more than their relationships, for sure.

I've even called the IRS hotline to report a BIL who who has sent 10's of millions of dollars to off shore accounts...but he has covered his tracks so carefully the IRS can do nothing. And he has a daughter living on the streets of Los Angeles because of the bizarre financial rules she was raised with. Go figure.....and that's the scary cannot reason with people's financial motives especially when they are unethical.



answers from Amarillo on

Usually they take out more money when you claim one or single than married. At the end of the year when you file (usually jointly) there is enough money to pay your taxes otherwise you have to come up with the extra money. My husband used to claim one.

In fact I have to go to my HR and ask about taxes as he is retired and I am working.

As long as the government gets theirs they are happy. I use Turbo Tax to do my taxes.

The other S.


answers from St. Louis on

The only thing I could think of is if his wife is self employed and doesnt pay taxes quarterly. I am self employed and dont pay taxes and it comes out of my husbands tax return. Other than that, I have no idea because they would get more money back if they filed married.



answers from Chicago on

He probably wants to claim single for the financial benefit.



answers from Dallas on

Your daughter needs to claim head of household. She will not get all credits for the baby if she claims married filing separate. No earned income credit either.



answers from Dallas on

Okay first of all, on the w4 you can claim single is ensures that more taxes are taken out of his check.... on your tax return, if you are MARRIED and file SINGLE... IT IS ILLEGAL. If married you can only legally file Married Joint or Married Separate.... filing married separate you lose any ability to get the EIC credit and lots of other credits. I'm not sure what your sil income is and what your daughters income is, but depending on that would depend on how best to file the return. I used to prepare taxes for a living and in Calif you have to certified and do continuing education in order to prepare taxes for money.. not like here in Texas where any Joe Blow can prepare taxes.


answers from Denver on

Having not read other posts: He can claim anything he wants to for withholdings on his W4.

A married person can only claim one of the two following statuses per IRS regulations:
married filing a joint return
married filing a separate return

There are many tax people out there who encourage married couples to file 'head of household'. This is technically wrong. It may net the couple a higher tax refund and the tax preparer probably gets a spiff for every return he/she completes. It's still WRONG!!

Falsifying an income tax return is punishable up to and including incarceration.

On a personal note your SIL is an idiot because he's screwing his family.



answers from Dallas on

The filing status on an income tax return is determined by the legal status on the last day of the year. If your daughter was married to him on the last day of the year, then both of them must file either Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately on the income tax return for that year. Hopefully, he is only talking about his income tax withholding from his payroll checks, because there is an option for married but withholding at a higher single rate on the Form W-4 and is perfectly legal. If he is planning to file an income tax return as a single person, I would recommend that your daughter file a tax return as Married Filing Separately. She should NOT file as a single person or as unmarried head of household, or she will be perjuring herself. Serious business. If your daughter files Married Filing Separately, then she should read IRS Publication 555, Community Property, to determine how to allocate income and deductions if she lives in a community property state, such as Texas. She should also seek legal advice. (No, I am not an attorney.)


answers from Dallas on

Sometimes you can claim certain ways to get more money back.



answers from Las Vegas on

Don't single people pay more taxes? All those dependents make nice little deductions. He doesn't sound terribly bright but I suspect that the reason why he is saying he wants to claim single status on his tax return is either to get a rise out of you all or he wants to keep whatever money they would be getting back to himself.



answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't think you "can" do that when you're married--unless there are extenuating circumstances (missing person, etc)....I mean it would, at the very least, be of no benefit.
Are you sure he's not talking about his exemptions on his W-4?



answers from Dallas on

He can't file Single if he's married. He can file Married filing Separately. Perhaps what he means is that he wants to claim Single on his withholding so that more taxes are taken out of each check resulting in less liability or possibly a refund when they file their tax return.

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