Tax time is here again, and if you are recently divorced or currently going through the divorce process, you might be wondering whether you can file for divorce jointly or singly. As long as you were still married on December 31st of the previous year, you can file your taxes jointly with your spouse. For many couples, this is a convenient option. For others, filing separately is a better choice. Your accountant or financial adviser can help you determine which is the better option for you. Determining whether to file your taxes jointly is just one of the many ways you will need to continue to work with your spouse through your divorce and beyond.
Your Tax Obligation is Lower if you File Jointly
This is true in most cases, but your accountant can confirm whether it is true in your case. Your tax burden is determined by your income, your deductions, and your available tax credits. Generally, a married couple’s tax burden is lower than if the spouses were to file separately because the lower-earning spouse’s income brings the couple’s total into a lower tax bracket than the higher-earning spouse would have paid on his or her own. There are also certain tax credits, like a higher phase-out point for the child tax credit for married couples.
You Can File Separately
Just because it is possible for you to file your taxes jointly does not mean that you must. In some cases, it could be advantageous to file your taxes separately. This could be for financial reasons, like you having paid more than half of the household maintenance expenses and thus qualifying for head of household status, or for personal reasons, such as being unable to communicate effectively with your former spouse in order to work together during tax season.
You must meet certain requirements to qualify for head of household status. In addition to paying more than half of your household expenses, you must have lived apart from your spouse for at least six months during the tax year, and your home must have been your child’s primary home.
Returned Taxes as a Marital Asset
If you expect to have money returned because of an overpayment of taxes, be sure to have this noted as a marital asset in your divorce settlement. Both spouses are entitled to this money. However, this comes with a reverse responsibility: when there is an underpayment of taxes, both spouses are liable for the money owed. Keep this in mind when you are deciding whether to file your taxes jointly or separately.
Work with an Orlando Divorce Attorney
If you are considering filing for divorce or you are already engrossed in the process and need a divorce attorney who can accurately represent your needs and interests as you work to end your marriage, contact The Law Offices of Aubrey Harry Ducker, Jr., PLLC. Contact our firm today to schedule your free legal consultation and learn more about filing your taxes during or shortly after a divorce.