If I Am in the Middle of a Divorce at Year End, How Should I File My Taxes?

Divorce and filing taxes

Divorce & Taxes 101 | Filing Taxes While Getting Divorced

Typically, at the beginning of a calendar year, as most people begin to receive their income tax reporting documents for the year prior, we are inundated with the question of how should I file my taxes?

While you may have previously filed jointly, if you are getting divorced,¬†what was perhaps the normal course for the duration of the marriage has now become a question. Sometimes it’s because people question if they are still legally married since they are not yet in fact divorced. Other times it’s because people no longer trust their spouse and do not want to share in the filing process together. There are also instances where one spouse has become aware of new financial information through the divorce (such as underreporting, cash components, etc.), and that spouse no longer wants to file jointly.

Irrespective of the circumstances, your lawyer is not necessarily the one with the answer. I always tell clients: ask your accountant. As a lawyer, I cannot tell you the financial impact of filing jointly or otherwise, however an accountant can typically run the returns in both scenarios and then guide your options as to which provides a better financial result.

Below, we will discuss how to handle tax filings if you are in the middle of a divorce, but we still encourage you to consult with an accountant on how to file taxes if your divorce is still pending.

Can You File Single If Your Divorce Is Not Final?

Your filing status depends in part on your marital status at the end of the tax year. December 31st is the last day of the tax year; if your divorce is finalized before or on that day, you cannot file jointly. If your divorce proceedings are ongoing at the start of the new year, you are still legally recognized as a married couple and can file jointly.

With that in mind, there are many reasons why you may not file jointly even if it was the normal course of action during the marriage. These instances are typically when one party:

  • is a business owner,
  • has multiple sources of income, and/or
  • there are concerns about transparency in reporting income

A spouse may understand the financial benefit of filing jointly but may seek an indemnification agreement in advance of doing so to ensure protection in the event there is any misinformation provided by the reporting spouse. If it’s something you haven’t thought about; you should consider asking about the best way to file your taxes for the upcoming year. In this case, you should ask your lawyer AND your accountant.

Contact Our Divorce Attorneys Today

If you have questions about your tax filings, our experienced attorneys can advise you and connect you with an experienced accountant. Getting divorced doesn’t just affect your taxes but also affects your financial future, emotional health, and sense of normalcy. If you are getting divorce, you should also retain our attorneys for help with divorce matters including but not limited to:

Contact Ziegler & Resnick LLC online today or call (973) 533-1100 to learn more about how our firm can help you.

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