How To File Taxes During A Divorce

Filing taxes is a task that can stress even the calmest of human beings. But, if you’re also trying to navigate through a divorce, it can send you through the roof. You certainly don’t want to make a mistake that is going to end up costing you in court.

The law is very clear about who can file jointly, singly or as head of household. Here is some basic information about filing taxes during a divorce. It’s always a good idea to talk with an experienced attorney and a tax advisor. They can provide you more explicit details and advice on your state taxes.

December 31 Is a Key Date

December 31st

Many questions about filing taxes can be resolved by asking one simple question. What was the status of the marriage as of December 31, the end of the tax year? If you were still married on that date, then you can file a joint return. This is true even if you are already taking steps to get a divorce.

Even if you are in the middle of divorce proceedings, as long as you were still married on December 31 of the tax year in question, you can file a joint return. The only condition is that both parties have to agree to the tax filing.

This also applies if you are separated, but not yet divorced. As long as your marriage has not been legally dissolved, you are eligible to file a tax return and check the box marked “married filing jointly”. If your marriage is over and the divorce is final as of December 31, you can no longer file jointly. You will need to file as either a single person or as head of household.

In terms of your tax liability, filing a joint return may be the most preferable option, as your combined income would allow for many more allowances and deductions than are given to single filers.

Married Filing Separately

What happens if your spouse refuses to file a joint return? In that case, you will need to file as the status “married filing separately”.

Perhaps you are separated and living apart, or even separated and still living together. Here, the living arrangement is not the main consideration. The status of the marriage on December 31, and whether the marriage has been legally dissolved, is what determines your filing status.

There may be advantages to filing separately while still married. In this case, you are only responsible for your own tax burden, which may be smaller than a joint filing. There are some special tax rules you need to think about, so consulting with a tax specialist is a vital step.

Family Matters Law Group knows that filing taxes can be stressful, even more so if you are filing during a divorce. We’ve given counsel to many clients in Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties, as well as others across the metro Atlanta area. If you have questions about how to file taxes during your divorce, contact us today. We’re ready to hear your story.