Question: Before the 2020 tax year’s filing deadline, you filed the tax return of Jiang and Kwan that included unemployment compensation and used MFJ filing status. Still, before the 2020 tax year filing deadline, they have come back to you because of new guidance regarding the portion of unemployment income being nontaxable income and ask you to change their filing status to MFS because it is overall more beneficial to them. Can they change their filing status from MFJ to MFS?
Answer: While Jiang and Kwan cannot file an amended return after the return’s filing time has expired to change from MFJ to MFS (§1.6013-1(a)(1)), they may file a superseding return before the 2020 tax year filing deadline to make the change. When a superseding return is filed on or before the original tax return filing due date, it corrects the initial return filed instead of the IRS viewing it as an amended return. The IRS treats the superseding return’s corrections as modifying the original return filed. Thus, if it is determined that the filing status of MFS is better than MFJ overall for the couple after the 2020 MFJ return was filed, then filing a superseding return before the filing deadline may be a useful option.