Effective: February 7, 2022
Your Stuff & Your Permissions
When you use our Services, you provide us with things like your files, content, messages, contacts, and so on ("Your Stuff"). Your Stuff is yours. These Terms don’t give us any rights to Your Stuff except for the limited rights that enable us to offer the Services.
We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it when you ask us to. Our Services also provide you with features like eSign, file sharing, email newsletters, appointment setting and more. These and other features may require our systems to access, store, and scan Your Stuff. You give us permission to do those things, and this permission extends to our affiliates and trusted third parties we work with.
Sharing Your Stuff
Our Services let you share Your Stuff with others, so please think carefully about what you share.
You’re responsible for your conduct. Your Stuff and you must comply with applicable laws. Content in the Services may be protected by others’ intellectual property rights. Please don’t copy, upload, download, or share content unless you have the right to do so. We may review your conduct and content for compliance with these Terms. With that said, we have no obligation to do so. We aren’t responsible for the content people post and share via the Services.
Help us keep you informed and Your Stuff protected. Safeguard your password to the Services, and keep your account information current. Don’t share your account credentials or give others access to your account.
You may use our Services only as permitted by applicable law, including export control laws and regulations. Finally, to use our Services, you must be at least 13, or in some cases, even older. If you live in France, Germany, or the Netherlands, you must be at least 16. Please check your local law for the age of digital consent. If you don’t meet these age requirements, you may not use the Services.
Some of our Services allow you to download client software (“Software”) which may update automatically. So long as you comply with these Terms, we give you a limited, nonexclusive, nontransferable, revocable license to use the Software, solely to access the Services. To the extent any component of the Software may be offered under an open source license, we’ll make that license available to you and the provisions of that license may expressly override some of these Terms. Unless the following restrictions are prohibited by law, you agree not to reverse engineer or decompile the Services, attempt to do so, or assist anyone in doing so.
We sometimes release products and features that we are still testing and evaluating. Those Services have been marked beta, preview, early access, or evaluation (or with words or phrases with similar meanings) and may not be as reliable as other non-beta services, so please keep that in mind.
The Services are protected by copyright, trademark, and other US and foreign laws. These Terms don’t grant you any right, title, or interest in the Services, others’ content in the Services, CountingWorks and our trademarks, logos and other brand features. We welcome feedback, but note that we may use comments or suggestions without any obligation to you.
We respect the intellectual property of others and ask that you do too. We respond to notices of alleged copyright infringement if they comply with the law, and such notices should be reported to legal@CountingWorks.com. We reserve the right to delete or disable content alleged to be infringing and terminate accounts of repeat infringers. Our designated agent for notice of alleged copyright infringement on the Services is:
You’re free to stop using our Services at any time. We reserve the right to suspend or terminate your access to the Services with notice to you if:
We won’t provide notice before termination where:
Discontinuation of Services
We may decide to discontinue the Services in response to unforeseen circumstances beyond CountingWorks control or to comply with a legal requirement. If we do so, we’ll give you reasonable prior notice so that you can export Your Stuff from our systems.
Services “AS IS”
We strive to provide great Services, but there are certain things that we can't guarantee. TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, CountingWorks AND ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS AND DISTRIBUTORS MAKE NO WARRANTIES, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, ABOUT THE SERVICES. THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED "AS IS." WE ALSO DISCLAIM ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT. Some places don’t allow the disclaimers in this paragraph, so they may not apply to you.
Limitation of Liability
WE DON’T EXCLUDE OR LIMIT OUR LIABILITY TO YOU WHERE IT WOULD BE ILLEGAL TO DO SO—THIS INCLUDES ANY LIABILITY FOR CountingWorks OR ITS AFFILIATES’ FRAUD OR FRAUDULENT MISREPRESENTATION IN PROVIDING THE SERVICES. IN COUNTRIES WHERE THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF EXCLUSIONS AREN’T ALLOWED, WE'RE RESPONSIBLE TO YOU ONLY FOR LOSSES AND DAMAGES THAT ARE A REASONABLY FORESEEABLE RESULT OF OUR FAILURE TO USE REASONABLE CARE AND SKILL OR OUR BREACH OF OUR CONTRACT WITH YOU. THIS PARAGRAPH DOESN’T AFFECT CONSUMER RIGHTS THAT CAN'T BE WAIVED OR LIMITED BY ANY CONTRACT OR AGREEMENT.
IN COUNTRIES WHERE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY ARE ALLOWED, CountingWorks, ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS WON’T BE LIABLE FOR:
THESE EXCLUSIONS OR LIMITATIONS WILL APPLY REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT CountingWorks OR ANY OF ITS AFFILIATES HAS BEEN WARNED OF THE POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.
IF YOU USE THE SERVICES FOR ANY COMMERCIAL, BUSINESS, OR RE-SALE PURPOSE, CountingWorks, ITS AFFILIATES, SUPPLIERS OR DISTRIBUTORS WILL HAVE NO LIABILITY TO YOU FOR ANY LOSS OF PROFIT, LOSS OF BUSINESS, BUSINESS INTERRUPTION, OR LOSS OF BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY. CountingWorks AND ITS AFFILIATES AREN’T RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CONDUCT, WHETHER ONLINE OR OFFLINE, OF ANY USER OF THE SERVICES.
Let’s Try To Sort Things Out First. We want to address your concerns without needing a formal legal case. Before filing a claim against CountingWorks or our affiliates, you agree to try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting legal@CountingWorks.com. We’ll try to resolve the dispute informally by contacting you via email.
Judicial forum for disputes. You and CountingWorks agree that any judicial proceeding to resolve claims relating to these Terms or the Services will be brought in the federal or state courts of Orange County, California, subject to the mandatory arbitration provisions below. Both you and CountingWorks consent to venue and personal jurisdiction in such courts. If you reside in a country (for example, European Union member states) with laws that give consumers the right to bring disputes in their local courts, this paragraph doesn’t affect those requirements.
IF YOU’RE A U.S. RESIDENT, YOU ALSO AGREE TO THE FOLLOWING MANDATORY ARBITRATION PROVISIONS:
These Terms will be governed by California law except for its conflicts of laws principles. However, some countries (including those in the European Union) have laws that require agreements to be governed by the local laws of the consumer's country. This paragraph doesn’t override those laws.
These Terms constitute the entire agreement between you and CountingWorks with respect to the subject matter of these Terms, and supersede and replace any other prior or contemporaneous agreements, or terms and conditions applicable to the subject matter of these Terms. These Terms create no third party beneficiary rights.
Waiver, Severability & Assignment
CountingWorks failure to enforce a provision is not a waiver of its right to do so later. If a provision is found unenforceable, the remaining provisions of the Terms will remain in full effect and an enforceable term will be substituted reflecting our intent as closely as possible. You may not assign any of your rights under these Terms, and any such attempt will be void. CountingWorks may assign its rights to any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, or to any successor in interest of any business associated with the Services.
We may revise these Terms from time to time to better reflect:
If an update affects your use of the Services or your legal rights as a user of our Services, we’ll notify you prior to the update's effective date by sending an email to the email address associated with your account or via an in-product notification. These updated terms will be effective no less than 30 days from when we notify you.
If you don’t agree to the updates we make, please cancel your account before they become effective. By continuing to use or access the Services after the updates come into effect, you agree to be bound by the revised Terms.
Effective: February 7, 2022
Thanks for visiting our website. Our mission is to create a web based experience that makes it easier for us to work together. Here we describe how we collect, use, and handle your personal information when you use our websites, software, and services (“Services”).
What & Why
We collect and use the following information to provide, improve, and protect our Services:
Account information. We collect, and associate with your account, the information you provide to us when you do things such as sign up for your account, opt-in to our client newsletter or request an appointment (like your name, email address, phone number, and physical address). Some of our Services let you access your accounts and your information via other service providers.
Your Stuff. Our Services are designed to make it simple for you to store your files, documents, comments, messages, and so on (“Your Stuff”), collaborate with others, and work across multiple devices. To make that possible, we store, process, and transmit Your Stuff as well as information related to it. This related information includes your profile information that makes it easier to collaborate and share Your Stuff with others, as well as things like the size of the file, the time it was uploaded, collaborators, and usage activity. Our Services provide you with different options for sharing Your Stuff.
Contacts. You may choose to give us access to your contacts (spouse or other company staff) to make it easy for you to do things like share and collaborate on Your Stuff, send messages, and invite others to use the Services. If you do, we’ll store those contacts on our servers for you to use.
Usage information. We collect information related to how you use the Services, including actions you take in your account (like sharing, viewing, and moving files or folders). We use this information to improve our Services, develop new services and features, and protect our users.
Cookies and other technologies. We use technologies like cookies to provide, improve, protect, and promote our Services. For example, cookies help us with things like remembering your username for your next visit, understanding how you are interacting with our Services, and improving them based on that information. You can set your browser to not accept cookies, but this may limit your ability to use the Services.
Marketing. We give users the option to use some of our Services free of charge. These free Services are made possible by the fact that some users upgrade to one of our paid Services. If you register for our free Services, we will, from time to time, send you information about the firm or tax and accounting tips when permissible. Users who receive these marketing materials can opt out at any time. If you do not want to receive marketing materials from us, simply click the ‘unsubscribe’ link in any email.
We sometimes contact people who do not have an account. For recipients in the EU, we or a third party will obtain consent before contacting you. If you receive an email and no longer wish to be contacted by us, you can unsubscribe and remove yourself from our contact list via the message itself.
Bases for processing your data. We collect and use the personal data described above in order to provide you with the Services in a reliable and secure manner. We also collect and use personal data for our legitimate business needs. To the extent we process your personal data for other purposes, we ask for your consent in advance or require that our partners obtain such consent.
We may share information as discussed below, but we won’t sell it to advertisers or other third parties.
Other users. Our Services display information like your name, profile picture, device, and email address to other users in places like your user profile and sharing notifications. You can also share Your Stuff with other users if you choose. When you register your account with an email address on a domain owned by your employer or organization, we may help collaborators and administrators find you and your workspace by making some of your basic information—like your name, workspace name, profile picture, and email address—visible to other users on the same domain. This helps you sync up with workspaces you can join and helps other users share files and folders with you. Certain features let you make additional information available to others.
Workspace Admins. If you are a user of a workspace, your administrator may have the ability to access and control your workspace account. Please refer to your organization’s internal policies if you have questions about this. If you are not a workspace user but interact with a workspace user (by, for example, joining a shared folder or accessing stuff shared by that user), members of that organization may be able to view the name, email address, profile picture, and IP address that was associated with your account at the time of that interaction.
Law & Order and the Public Interest. We may disclose your information to third parties if we determine that such disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with any applicable law, regulation, legal process, or appropriate government request; (b) protect any person from death or serious bodily injury; (c) prevent fraud or abuse of our platform or our users; (d) protect our rights, property, safety, or interest; or (e) perform a task carried out in the public interest.
Stewardship of your data is critical to us and a responsibility that we embrace. We believe that your data should receive the same legal protections regardless of whether it’s stored on our Services or on your home computer’s hard drive. We’ll abide by Government Request Policies when receiving, scrutinizing, and responding to government requests (including national security requests) for your data:
Security. We have a team dedicated to keeping your information secure and testing for vulnerabilities. We also continue to work on features to keep your information safe in addition to things like blocking repeated login attempts, encryption of files at rest, and alerts when new devices and apps are linked to your account. We deploy automated technologies to detect abusive behavior and content that may harm our Services, you, or other users.
User Controls. You can access, amend, download, and delete your personal information by logging into your account.
Retention. When you sign up for an account with us, we’ll retain information you store on our Services for as long as your account is in existence or as long as we need it to provide you the Services. If you delete your account, we will initiate deletion of this information after 30 days. But please note: (1) there might be some latency in deleting this information from our servers and back-up storage; and (2) we may retain this information if necessary to comply with our legal obligations, resolve disputes, or enforce our agreements.
Around the world. To provide you with the Services, we may store, process, and transmit information in the United States and locations around the world—including those outside your country. Information may also be stored locally on the devices you use to access the Services.
EU-U.S. Privacy Shield and Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield. When transferring data from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland, We rely upon a variety of legal mechanisms, including contracts with our customers and affiliates. We comply with the EU-U.S. and Swiss–U.S. Privacy Shield Frameworks as set forth by the U.S. Department of Commerce regarding the collection, use, and retention of personal information transferred from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland to the United States.
We are subject to oversight by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. JAMS is the US-based independent organization responsible for reviewing and resolving complaints about our Privacy Shield compliance—free of charge to you. We ask that you first submit any such complaints directly to us via privacy@CountingWorks.com. If you aren’t satisfied with our response, please contact JAMS at https://www.jamsadr.com/eu-us-privacy-shield. In the event your concern still isn’t addressed by JAMS, you may be entitled to a binding arbitration under Privacy Shield and its principles.
If we are involved in a reorganization, merger, acquisition, or sale of our assets, your information may be transferred as part of that deal.
Your Right to Control and Access Your Information
You have control over your personal information and how it is collected, used, and shared. For example, you have a right to:
Your personal information is controlled by CountingWorks, Inc. Have questions or concerns about CountingWorks, our Services, and privacy? Contact our Data Protection Officer at privacy@CountingWorks.com. If they can’t answer your question, you have the right to contact your local data protection supervisory authority.
Third Party Vendors
Amazon Web Services
Updated: June 2020.
strives to ensure that its services are accessible to people with disabilities. has invested a significant amount of resources to help ensure that its website is made easier to use and more accessible for people with disabilities, with the strong belief that every person has the right to live with dignity, equality, comfort and independence.
makes available the UserWay Website Accessibility Widget that is powered by a dedicated accessibility server. The software allows us to improve its compliance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.1).
Enabling the Accessibility Menu
The accessibility menu can be enabled either by hitting the tab key when the page first loads or by clicking the accessibility menu icon that appears on the corner of the page. After triggering the accessibility menu, please wait a moment for the accessibility menu to load in its entirety.
continues its efforts to constantly improve the accessibility of its site and services in the belief that it is our collective moral obligation to allow seamless, accessible and unhindered use also for those of us with disabilities.
In an ongoing effort to continually improve and remediate accessibility issues, we also regularly scan with UserWay's Accessibility Scanner to identify and fix every possible accessibility barrier on our site. Despite our efforts to make all pages and content on fully accessible, some content may not have yet been fully adapted to the strictest accessibility standards. This may be a result of not having found or identified the most appropriate technological solution.
Here For You
If you are experiencing difficulty with any content on or require assistance with any part of our site, please contact us during normal business hours as detailed below and we will be happy to assist.
If you wish to report an accessibility issue, have any questions or need assistance, please contact customer support.
Reasons to File Separate
Community Property State Income
Joint & Several Liability
Social Security Benefits Taxation Threshold
Capital Loss Limitation
Sec 179 Limitation
Rental Loss Limitation
Savings Bond Interest Exclusion
Higher Education Interest
Standard Deduction vs Itemized Deductions
Home Mortgage Interest
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT)
Child & Dependent Care Credit
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)
Adoption Tax Credit
Elderly & Disabled Tax Credit
Retirement (Saver’s) Credit
Estimated Tax Allocation
Estimated Tax High Income Safe Harbor
Premium Tax Credit
Automatic 2-month Extension When Out of the Country
Married taxpayers generally have the option to file a joint tax return or separate returns, a filing status commonly referred to as married filing separate (MFS). If you are married and you and your spouse are filing separate returns, or are considering doing so, you should read this article before making that decision. Depending on whether the taxpayers are residents of a separate or community property state, their separate returns may include just the income and eligible expenses of each filer or a percentage of their combined income and expenses.
Couples choose the MFS option for a variety of reasons:
They want to avoid the joint and several liability for the tax from a joint tax return. Joint and several liability is a legal term for a responsibility that is shared by two or more parties to a lawsuit. A wronged party may sue any or all of them, and collect the total damages awarded by a court from any or all of them.
They have children from a prior marriage and want to keep finances separate.
They only want to keep their taxes separate.
The marriage is tenuous.
The taxpayers are separated and don’t want to cooperate in filing a joint return.
One spouse might get a larger refund by filing separately (the other will pay more).
They think they can save money by filing separate returns, and a variety of other reasons.
The fact of the matter is that tax laws are carefully written to keep married taxpayers from filing separately to manipulate the tax laws to their benefit. The following is a list of the more commonly encountered tax disadvantages – some might call them tax penalties –when filing as MFS. Unless otherwise noted the amounts shown are for 2023:
Filing Threshold – For all filing statuses except MFS the income threshold where a return must be filed is equal to the standard deduction for that filing status. For an MFS return the filing threshold is $5.
Community Property State Income – Unlike most states where each spouse claims their own earned income on an MFS return, in community property states the earned income is evenly split between the spouses. However, FICA payroll withholding, self-employment tax, and IRA contributions apply separately to the spouse who earned the income.
Joint & Several Liability – On a joint return both spouses can be held responsible for payment of the tax, while the spouses filing as MFS are only responsible for payment of the tax on their individual MFS returns.
Social Security Benefits Taxation Threshold – Social Security (SS) income is not taxable until taxpayers filing married joint have modified AGI (MAGI) that exceeds a threshold of $32,000. MAGI is regular AGI (without Social Security income) plus 50% of their Social Security income plus tax-exempt interest income, and plus certain other infrequently encountered additions. However, the threshold is zero for taxpayers filing as MFS. Thus taxpayers filing as MFS are taxed on 85% of every dollar of SS income.
Capital Loss Limitation –Where married couples filing jointly can annually deduct up to $3,000 of capital losses, those filing as MFS can only deduct up to $1,500.
Sec 179 Limitation – Taxpayers can elect to expense the cost of qualifying property used in the active conduct of a trade or business. The portion of the cost not expensed under Sec 179 is depreciable. The maximum amount that can be expensed is inflation adjusted annually and is $1,160,000 for 2023 (up from 1,080,000 in 2022). For MFS taxpayers the annual maximum amount must be allocated between the spouses.
Rental Loss Limitation – Generally, most taxpayers cannot deduct rental losses. However, there is a special rule that allows a deduction of aggregate losses from rental real estate activities up to $25,000 per year for taxpayers who are an active participant in the activity. It means that the taxpayer must participate in management decisions, and at least arrange for others to provide the necessary services such as repairs.
However, this special allowance only applies to lower income taxpayers with an AGI, without regard to passive losses, of $150,000 or less. In addition the $25,000 loss allowance begins to phase out 50 cents for each $1 of income over $100,000. Thus the allowance is fully phased out for joint filers when the AGI exceeds $150,000.
Phase out applies to gross income without considering passives, taxable Social Security benefits, or deductions for IRA.
Taxpayers filing as MFS must live apart the entire year or they get no relief under this rule. If they lived apart all year, the allowance is $12,500, and phase out begins at income of $50,000
Traditional IRA – For taxpayers filing joint returns, a Traditional IRA is tax deductible except that the deductibility is phased out for higher income taxpayers who are active participants in an employer retirement plan. Where both spouses are active participants in an employer retirement plan the deductibility of IRA contribution in 2023 phases out for AGIs between $116,000 and $136,000. Where only one spouse is an active participant the phase out is between $218,000 and $228,000. However, for those filing MFS the phaseout is between $0 and $9,999.
Roth IRA – The ability to contribute to a Roth IRA phases out for those couples filing jointly between $218,000 - $228,000. However, for those living together and filing MFS the phase-out is range is $0 and $9,999.
Savings Bond Interest Exclusion - An individual who pays qualified higher education expenses with redemption proceeds from Series EE or I bonds issued after ’89 can potentially exclude from income the bond interest. No exclusion is available to a taxpayer filing married separate.
Higher Education Interest - An “above-the-line” deduction is allowed for interest payments due and paid on any “qualified student loan,” regardless of when a taxpayer first incurred the loan. The maximum deduction per year is $2,500. However, for those filing MFS, no deduction is allowed.
Standard Deduction – The deduction for those filing as MFS is ½ of the standard deduction for married filing joint taxpayers plus the age 65 and blind add-on amounts.
Standard Deduction vs Itemized Deductions – Generally taxpayers can choose between taking the standard deduction or itemizing deductions. However, where both spouses are filing as MFS if one itemizes, then both must itemize, a tax trap often overlooked by MFS filers.
Medicare Premiums - For taxpayers who qualify for Medicare, the premiums are based upon their modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) and filing status from the tax return two years prior. The rates for individuals filing MFS are substantially higher than for other Medicare participants.
Home Mortgage Interest - MFS spouses are treated as if they are one taxpayer and must split between them the amount of mortgage interest deduction they would be entitled to jointly. If two homes are involved, each spouse can only claim interest on one home unless they agree one can claim both.
State and Local Taxes Deduction – When itemizing deductions, the tax code limits (referred to as the SALT limitation) the deduction for state and local taxes, such as state income or sales tax and property tax, to $10,000 for all filing statuses except MFS, which is limited to $5,000.
Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) – For MFS taxpayers the AMT exemption amount is only half of the amount for those filing jointly and the income threshold for the 28% tax rate is half of what it is joint filers.
Tax Rates – The marginal rates for MFS are twice that of married taxpayers filing jointly.
Child & Dependent Care Credit – MFS taxpayers cannot claim this credit unless legally separated. Where it can be claimed, the AGI credit phaseout threshold is $75,000 (half of that allowed for joint filers).
Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) – The EITC is a tax credit for low-income taxpayers. Where one spouse can file as head of household (HH) instead of MFS and lives in a community property state, earned income for the credit does not include amounts earned by the other spouse. For a spouse to claim HH instead of MFS, he or she must have lived apart from their spouse at least the last six months of the year and paid more than one-half of the cost of maintaining a household which is the principal place of abode for more than one-half the year of a child, stepchild, or eligible foster child for whom the taxpayer may claim a dependency exemption.
Adoption Tax Credit - Allowed for an MFS taxpayer only if the spouses lived apart for the last 6 months of the year and the child lived with taxpayer more than half the year and the taxpayer provided over half the cost of maintaining the home.
Elderly & Disabled Tax Credit – Not allowed for those filing as MFS.
Retirement (Saver’s) Credit – The maximum AGI to be eligible for any Saver’s Credit for those filing jointly in 2023 is $54,750 while for those filing MFS it is $36,500.
Tax Withholding - MFS taxpayers only claim their own income tax withheld unless they are residents of a community property state where they each claim half.
Estimated Tax Allocation – When taxpayers make joint estimated tax payments, they can allocate the payments between themselves in any amounts they can agree upon. If they cannot agree, they must divide the payments in proportion to each spouse's individual tax as shown on their separate returns for the year.
Estimated Tax High Income Safe Harbor – Taxpayers are subject to an underpayment penalty when their tax liability less the sum of their withholding and estimated tax payments is more than $1,000. However, there is a high income exception to the penalty when the AGI for the previous year is over $150,000, in which case the required estimated payments are the smaller of 90% of the current year’s tax, or 110% of the previous year’s tax. If filing MFS the AGI for the previous year need only be over $75,000.
Premium Tax Credit – The premium tax credit is a refundable credit available to lower income taxpayers to help them offset the cost of purchasing their health insurance from a government marketplace. Taxpayers filing MFS cannot claim this substantial credit unless they are a victim of spousal abuse or abandonment.
Automatic 2-month Extension When Out of the Country – Taxpayers who are out of the U.S. on the tax filing due date are granted an automatic 2-month extension to file their tax return. This provision applies to both spouses when filing a joint return even if only one spouse is out of the country. When filing MFS, the extension will only apply to the spouse that is out of the country.
Many of the consequences listed interact with others and generally require professional tax software to account for all of interactions and to accurately compare the results for a couple filing jointly or each filing separately.
If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment to see how the consequences of filing separate returns might apply to your situation, please give the office a call.
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Have questions on the article or need help with your tax problems? Contact us today to schedule a consultation.