I am legally married but do not reside in the same home and haven't for the entire year of 2009
Your question is really my answer to potential clients who want to know whether they should or should not file for divorce themselves--the hidden expense of not doing so. Unless you provide support in your home for a dependent and can claim "head of household" status [you are not the head of household unless that dependent is there], you are stuck paying a higher rate of taxes.
The other side of the coin is that if your spouse wins the lottery, you would have a marital interest, but as you know, the likelihood of that happening is remote.
You should confer with a tax professional to address the ins and outs of your filing status.
If you are married on December 31 you normally only have two filing choices, either married filing separately or married filing jointly. Single is not an option. However, if you meet the following situation you can file as head of household:
Married persons who live apart. Even if not divorced or legally separated at the end of of the year, are considered un-married if all of the following apply.
• You lived apart from your spouse for the last 6 months of the year. Temporary absences for special circumstances, such as for business, medical care, school, or military service, count as time lived in the home.
• You file a separate return from your spouse.
• You paid over half the cost of keeping up your home for the year.
• Your home was the main home of your child, stepchild, or foster child for more than half of the year (if half or less, see Exception to time lived with you above).
• You can claim this child as your dependent or could claim the child except that the child’s other parent can claim him or her.
Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.