When it comes time to file tax returns, those of our clients who are separated but not yet divorced often ask our opinion. As with many issues, there are some benefits to filing a joint return. However, there may also be unexpected consequences. When spouses file jointly, they are each responsible for all of the reported information. Each spouse can be held responsible for tax liability, which can include interest and penalties. One concern, therefore, is whether the other spouse has had adequate withholding or has paid their quarterly tax obligation in full and on time.
We do not recommend a client file jointly if they are concerned their spouse has not been honest about income or deductions.
On the other hand, there are significant benefits of filing jointly, such as lower tax brackets. Filing jointly rather than filing married filing separately can save money. You may qualify for filing as head of household.
You may need guidance from an independent accountant or a competent family law attorney. Concerns may include who can get certain deductions, how to divide resulting tax liability, and how a refund may be divided.
ABOUT SANDRA A. BROOKS
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As a family law attorney, Sandra (Sandy) Brooks’ practice focuses on a wide range of aspects in regards to family law. She dedicates her time to assisting clients in domestic law matters including divorce, child custody and visitation, family mediation, spousal and child support, property division, and division of retirement benefits. Other matters that fall under her jurisdiction as a family law attorney include tax consequences of divorce, mediation, prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements, negotiating and drafting of separation agreements, domestic litigation, and post-judgment proceedings.
ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN
Offit Kurman, one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the United States, serves dynamic businesses, individuals and families. With 18 offices and more than 250 lawyers who counsel clients across more than 30 areas of practice, Offit Kurman helps maximize and protect business value and personal wealth by providing innovative and entrepreneurial counsel that focuses on clients’ business objectives, interests and goals. The firm is distinguished by the quality, breadth and global reach of its legal services and a unique operational structure that encourages a culture of collaboration. For more information, visit www.offitkurman.com.
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