Tax filing status for divorcing couples

One of the most common questions this time of year is how a client should file their tax returns–should they file married filing jointly, head of household, individual, or married filing separately. The correct choice for your situation can save you money and potential liability for improperly filed taxes.

Divorced/Separated Couples

A person who is divorced or legally separated before December 31 of the tax year, cannot file a joint return. They must file either an individual return or as head of household. If your marriage has not yet been dissolved or you are not legally separated, you may file as married filing jointly or married filing separately.

Married Filing Jointly

Married filing jointly status will produce the lowest tax rates and the highest standard deduction. The spouse paying support will benefit from this status because their overall tax liability will be lower. That will allow for more available net income for the paying spouse and more support for the supported spouse. As a result, until your divorce is final, it may benefit the spouses to file married filing jointly.