Your Filing Status

You should check the same filing status on your North Carolina return that you claimed on the federal return unless you or your spouse is a nonresident and had no North Carolina taxable income for the tax year. If you filed a joint federal return and one of you was a nonresident of North Carolina who had no North Carolina taxable income, you may file a joint State return. Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return. However, you still have the option of filing your State return as married filing separately. If you choose to file a separate North Carolina return, you must complete either a federal return as married filing separately reporting only your income, deductions, and exemptions, or a schedule showing the computation of your separate income, deductions, and exemptions and attach it to your North Carolina return. You must also include a copy of your joint federal return unless your federal return reflects a North Carolina address.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, Section 2(b)(2), an individual who is legally separated from his/her spouse under a decree of divorce or of separate maintenance shall not be considered as married. North Carolina law, N.C.G.S. 52-10.1, authorizes a married couple to enter into a legal separation agreement. Although an agreement pursuant to N.C.G.S. 52-10.1 is a legal contract without being sanctioned by a court, it does not constitute a legal separation under a decree of divorce or of separate maintenance within the meaning of the Internal Revenue Code. Therefore, a separation agreement must be sanctioned by a court in the form of a decree or judgment for parties to be considered unmarried for purposes of filing status. (updated December 2009)

A North Carolina tax return is required if your federal gross income exceeds:

$7,500 and your filing status is: Single
$15,000 for Married Filing Jointly
$7,500 for Married Filing Separately (If spouse does not claim itemized deductions)
$0 for Married Filing Separately (If spouse claims itemized deductions)
$12,000 for Head of Household
$15,000 for Qualifying Widow(er) with dependent child
$0 for Nonresident ailen

You may obtain additional information by calling toll-free at 1-877-252-3052 or visiting a service center. This additional information is also available on page 5 of the North Carolina instruction booklet.

Be sure to check the appropriate filing status on your North Carolina return.