Legal Blog

The Weekly Scenario: Options for Filing Your Tax Return During a Divorce

Question: Our divorce will not be final this year.  What are my options for filing my income tax return?

Answer: If you are not legally divorced by the end of the year, you must file your tax return as a married individual (you are not able to file as ‘single’).  When you file a joint tax return, both parties are jointly and severally liable for the tax.  One option for married individuals is to file separate tax returns (specifically the tax filing status is married filing separately).  This tax filing status could be beneficial if one or both parties is unsure about filing jointly.

If separate tax returns are filed, each taxpayer reports a portion of the income.  If a joint return is filed (if divorce not finalized), the spouse who is responsible for paying spousal support (if applicable) will not be able to deduct the payments.  By filing separate tax returns, the spouse who pays spousal support may generally deduct the payments.

As a final point, attorneys’ fees are generally deductible where the fees exceed 2% of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income (subject to phase out). 

If you have any questions or would like more information please contact Steve Shane at: | 301.575.0313.

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Steve Shane Head Shot for webSteve Shane provides strategic counseling to clients in need of estate administration, charitable giving and business continuity planning while minimizing estate, gift, and generation-skipping transfer tax exposure. He offers legal guidance to clients on asset protection and the proper disposition of assets in accordance with the client’s objectives, while employing tax planning techniques such as the use of irrevocable trusts, life insurance planning, lifetime gifts and charitable trust. He is also experienced with drafting documents for business planning, the incorporation and application for exemption for Private Foundations and the administration of decedents’ estates.

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