Taxpayer asks:

Dear Taxgirl:

I am married and due to my husband’s tax debt, we file as married filing separately.  I bought a house recently in my name only that we live in together, and he pays 1/2 of the all house expenses.  Is this considered income to me?  The state we live in is Illinois.

Taxgirl says:

If you file as married filing separately, that means that you are reporting only your income and claiming only your deductions; your spouse’s income and expenses are reported separately.

Splitting household expenses happens all of the time and for all kinds of reasons (we do it in my family, too). Typically, since household expenses are personal in nature and are not deductible, there’s no corresponding income. So, from a federal income tax perspective, your spouse’s payments to you to help cover household expenses are tax neutral – in other words, no harm, no foul.

One quick caveat: You didn’t specifically reference a mortgage but if you do have a mortgage, the ownership and payment rules still apply for purposes of any home mortgage interest deduction. Also, remember that when you file separate returns, you and your spouse must both claim the standard deduction or both of you must itemize your deductions (you can’t itemize while your spouse claims a standard deduction).

Before you go: be sure to read my disclaimer. Remember, I’m a lawyer and we love disclaimers.
If you have a question, here’s how to “ask the taxgirl.”

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Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.

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