A single person files taxes individually. A married couple file taxes in one of two ways: 1) married filing jointly, or 2) married filing separately. If spouses are married on December 31 of a given year then they can file either married filing jointly or separately for that year. Therefore, if spouses are going through a divorce they can file married jointly or married separately for a certain year if they are married on December 31 of that year. On the other hand, if spouses get divorced at any time in a given year then they must file taxes individually for that year.
Generally, a married couple filing jointly pays less taxes than if they were to file separately. This is because together they can claim a higher standard deduction and more tax credits. Therefore, it is common for divorcing spouses to file married filing jointly while their case is pending.
There are, however, circumstances when a divorcing spouse may want to file married filing separately.
One situation is when one spouse will obtain a larger refund than if he/she were filing jointly. This usually occurs when a spouse with little to no income files separately. But if the other spouse has a higher income then he/she will probably have to pay more in taxes. Therefore, the higher earner will want to file jointly to limit his/her tax liability. Consequently, it is not unusual for the higher earner spouse in this scenario to petition the court to force the other spouse to file jointly. Judges’ rulings on this issue vary greatly.
Another situation where a spouse may want to file separately is if/she suspects the other of hiding or not reporting income. Under this scenario, the spouse will not want to sign a tax return out of fear that he/she is co-conspirator in tax fraud.
Tax issues during a divorce can be complicated. With the help of an experienced divorce attorney and accountant, divorcing spouses can make tax decisions that will benefit them in the short and long term.
The Botti Law Firm, P.C. has been practicing family law for nearly 50 years in DuPage and Cook County. Please contact one of our attorneys at (630)573-8585 if you have any questions or would like to schedule a free consultation.
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The Botti Law Firm, P.C., conveniently located in Oak Brook and Wheaton, is a full service law firm that offers comprehensive legal representation to individuals, families, businesses and professionals from the Chicago area, including Cook, Kane, DuPage, Lake, Will and Kendall Counties, to the rest of the United States. Our experienced trial attorneys are dedicated to obtaining successful results for our clients, in both state and federal courts.
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Contact the Botti Law Firm, P.C. to learn more about our different practice areas and how we can best address your legal concerns. Call (630) 573-8585 to speak with one of our attorneys.