If you are in the middle of a divorce, filing for income taxes can get complicated. Whether you both worked, or you have a combination of income from investments and employment, how you file your taxes will depend on a number of factors. Your filing status will depend on whether you still live together, if there is a separation agreement filed, and if you have any qualifying dependents living with you. The best way to file your taxes is to have a professional look over your information and determine which filing status is going to work best for both of you.
Married Filing Jointly
As a couple on the verge of divorce, you may still be able to file married filing jointly one last time. If you are still legally married on the last day of the year, you can file using the married filing jointly status. This may give both of you a bit of a tax break, as couples tend to pay a lower tax percentage than individuals that file as a single person. Talk with your accountant to see if filing jointly is in your best financial interests.
Married Filing Separately
If you are still married on December 31, but it is more beneficial for you to file your taxes alone, you can file with the status married filing separately. You may want to file separately if you don't want to be held responsible for the tax burden your spouse creates. If you file your taxes separately, you are only responsible for the taxes you incur. In a hotly contested divorce, this might be your best way to sever ties quickly.
Filing as Head of Household
If you are still married but living separately, you can file as head of household if you meet certain criteria. During the tax year, you would need to have paid for more than 50% of the expenses to maintain your home. These expenses include the food you eat, the rent, utilities, taxes and more. You and your spouse had to be living separately from July-December, six months before the end of the tax year. To be considered the head of household, your home must also be the primary residence of a child, stepchild or other dependent for at least six months out of the year.
Whether you choose to file taxes separately or together, it's important to talk with an accountant (such as one from Bauer & Associates LTD) to discuss your options.