# How do I take the state sales tax deduction if my spouse lives in another state?

My wife and I live in two different states, and I'm currently in the process of filing our 2014 income tax return. We are Married Filing Jointly. I have income from only the state that I live in, and she has income from only the state she lives in. I believe that I have correctly sorted out which returns we have to file, and how to do that. There remains one line on the federal form I haven't yet figured out how to calculate.

Here's the timeline. On January 1, 2014, both my wife and I lived in State A. During 2014, she moved to State B in order to take a job, and lived there for the remainder of 2014. I lived in State A for all of 2014.

We would like to take the deduction for state general sales tax (Form 1040, Schedule A, Line 5b). I'm not totally sure the correct way to calculate this. It's not the mid-year move that's giving me trouble; I would know how to do if we had both moved together. It's the fact that we're not living in the same states that's giving me trouble. I have come up with a few ideas of how to handle this:

1. Act as if we both lived the entire year in one or the other state. This is the easiest, but seems like the least correct.
2. Act as if I lived in State A the whole year, she lived in State B the whole year, and take the mean of those. This is only slightly more difficult than 1, and isn't that inaccurate because of when she actually made the move.
3. Work out one deduction for us living the whole year in State A, one deduction for us according to when she moved, and take the mean of those. This correctly represents both when she moved and our filing status.
4. Same as 3, but calculate this deduction for two separate "households": me by myself, and her by herself. Then take the sum of two resulting deductions. This correctly represents when she moved, and represents our living situation rather than our filing status.

I should possibly add that the difference among these methods results in a deduction for this line that changes the final Tax due by less than \$20. I've easily spent more than \$20 of my time thinking about this.

• It is surprising that MFS filing gives almost the same net tax as MFJ filing; the tax rates are designed to discourage married couples from filing MFS returns unless there is very good reason to do so. – Dilip Sarwate Jul 11 '15 at 15:32
• That sentence is not very clear. I did not mean to suggest that we would file MFS; MFJ is much better in our situation. What I meant was that, when the calculator asks how many people are in our household, I would say 1 for me, then re-do the calculation with 1 for her. I'll try to clarify that. – Colin McFaul Jul 11 '15 at 20:42