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Year-End Tax Questions for Divorcing Couples

taxes during divorce

If you have separated from your spouse during 2015, but are not yet divorced, you may be wondering about financial implications for your taxes.  Many people like to file their returns immediately after the start of the new year, but whether you are able to do this or not may depend on your circumstances and how cooperative your former spouse is in regard to filing a joint or individual return.

Types of Tax Filings

Whether you are single or divorced, there are several options when it comes to filing your income taxes.  Married people can still file separate returns, although in many cases it does not make financial sense to do so.  Likewise, a single person may be able to file as head of household if he or she is the primary supporter for dependent children.

The status you choose will depend on several factors.  Here are some options for those who are still married but are planning to divorce in 2016:

  • File a joint return. If you can do so, filing a joint return is often the best option.  You will usually receive the most in exemptions and credits by taking this route.  Of course, you will have to discuss with your spouse how any returns will be divided or how any tax liability will be paid.  It is best to get this in writing, as many people have found themselves responsible for their former spouse’s taxes by filing a joint return without clarifying the terms.
  • File separate returns. Depending on your income and assets, it may benefit you to file a separate return from your spouse.  You may also be forced to do so if your ex is not cooperative.  This is an area in which it may pay to talk with a tax accountant to explore your options.
  • File for an extension. If you are trying to hammer out an agreement, you can ask the government for an extension on filing your income tax return.  This is a process that may best be done by a professional, so talk with your tax accountant about how to use an extension to your benefit.

Ultimately, you and your former spouse will need to agree on how your future taxes will be filed, especially if you have dependent children.  Some couples choose to split the dependents, while others agree to let one parent claim the children.  Talk with the attorneys at Men’s Legal Center in San Diego about your options.