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Handling complex divorce and family law cases in the Tampa Bay Area, including, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and New Port Richey
Handling complex divorce and family law cases in the Tampa Bay Area, including, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and New Port Richey
Handling complex divorce and family law cases in the Tampa Bay Area, including, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Tampa, and New Port Richey

Who should file a couple’s tax return during a divorce?

On Behalf of | Jun 5, 2024 | Divorce |

Filing an income tax return is a responsibility that every working adult typically needs to fulfill each year. Annual income tax returns help validate income tax contributions including payroll withholding and estimated tax payments.

Many people look forward to receiving a refund when they file. Others may have to pay if they didn’t make enough payroll contributions throughout the previous year. Spouses typically file their tax returns together, which can potentially contribute to conflicts during divorce. Divorcing spouses sometimes need to address the logistics of tax matters at the end of a marriage.

For example, spouses with minor children often need to agree about who claims the children for the purposes of income tax credits. Once the divorce is finalized, people can begin filing separate tax returns as the heads of their own households. Up until that point, however, their marriage may affect their tax obligations.

Spouses may need to file jointly

Contrary to what many people expect, it is not always possible to file a separate income tax return during a divorce. Doing so might only be an option after the courts officially dissolve the marital relationship.

Spouses may need to discuss the income tax matter with one another and decide who should file the tax return for the couple. Often, the person who has handled financial matters during the marriage is the right person to file the income tax return during the divorce. However, concerns about sharing a refund and other financial matters might make having one spouse file the return for both spouses seem like a questionable choice.

If spouses have formally separated but not yet divorced, it may be possible for each of them to file a separate income tax return. Federal law does acknowledge a legal separation by allowing the spouses who have separated from each other to file their income tax returns as though they were single individuals. Even then, spouses have to communicate about their plans to avoid complications, like one spouse filing for both spouses while the other files on their own.

Tax concerns are only one of many financial matters that people have to address as they prepare for a Florida divorce. Understanding the requirements for income tax filings may help people better address their financial obligations during a divorce.