Should I File Separate or Joint Tax Return If I’m Getting a Divorce?

When it comes to the question of filing either joint or separate tax returns after a divorce, the answer can often leave both parties with more questions then answers. While you might feel inclined to choose one filing status over the other, the Internal Revenue Service does not play games when it comes to taking what is theirs. In the eyes of the IRS, regardless which status you choose, the rules are quite detailed as far as who pays what concerning assets. This is why it is always recommended you seek the help of a tax professional before filing your returns.

Measure Twice and Cut Once

The analogy of measuring a piece of wood twice before cutting it because you can’t go back was never more pertinent that dealing with a filing status after a return. Often emotions run high after a divorce, and for whatever reason one party might think they are getting one over on the other by filing a particular way. The truth is that the Internal Revenue Service has no emotional baggage in this decision, and they will be looking over that return to the letter. If you realize after you filed that you may have placed a huge spotlight on you or your ex, there is no turning back except for filing an amended return. This return will surely draw the attention of an IRS agent who will most likely start paying close attention to your previous returns too.

The Process Needs to Play Out

One of the reasons that the decision to file either jointly or separately has such a huge impact on both of you is because many of the assets that were divided up during the divorce make the filing of your taxes very complicated to begin with. Many of the biggest taxable events did not play out during the divorce, and now months later they require attention that could greatly affect you financially if you filed incorrectly this year. New tax laws are being implemented every year, and unless you knew that you can no longer use your divorce settlement to back up claims of your children’s dependency, filing incorrectly will cost you significantly. Allow a trained tax consultant sort out these details so you aren’t paying it for it come tax time.

When Did You Get Divorced?

One of the things that trips up more divorced couples each year is believing they need to file a joint return because they were still married for a portion of the previous year. The Internal Revenue Service claims that your marital status as of the last day of the previous year is the determining factor for filing that return. If you were not aware of this, you may have filed a joint return in the hopes of getting more money back, to find out you were wrong and now have an IRS agent looking over that return much more closely.

The short answer to whether to file a joint or separate tax return after a divorce is this, ask a trained tax professional for help. They are up-to-date on all the latest tax laws that were implemented this tax season. By letting a tax professional look over your particular situation, you will streamline the filing process and reduce the likelihood that your return is red-flagged because you made a glaring common mistake that could have easily been avoided.