Filing Taxes During a Divorce
Divorce can take a long time, especially in California where you must have at least six months and one day from service on the respondent to divorce date. For a lot of people, this means that they will need to file taxes while in the middle of their divorce.
One of the first things you need to know is that until your divorce judgment is signed and filed and the date marital status ends has passed, you are still married. Until this has happened, you are not yet single in the eyes of the law, no matter how long it has been since you and your spouse separated.
To determine your filing status, you need to know the date your marriage ended. This should be on your judgment (form FL-180). If you don’t have a judgment yet, then your divorce has not ended and you are still married.
In some cases, the parties do what is called a “status only judgment” or bifurcation. To learn more about status only judgments, see Status Only Judgment. This means the parties are declared legally divorced (single) even though all issues in the case have not been resolved. In those cases, you should still have a judgment (FL-180).
If you are legally divorced as of the last day of the calendar year (December 31) then you must file as single or head of household.
If you are still in the process of divorcing, you must file as married or married, filing separately.
For example, if your divorce is final as of December 3, 2016, you will file your 2016 taxes as single or head of household. If your divorce is not final until January 3, 2017, then your 2016 taxes should be filed married or married, filing separately.
If you’re filing as married and you and your spouse can reach an agreement about taxes, you may want to seek the advice of a tax professional to see if there is a benefit to filing together or separately. If you aren’t able to reach an agreement or you aren’t in contact with your spouse, then you can file married, filing separately.
It is important to keep up with your tax filings during your divorce proceedings, even though it can be complicated and you may not want to deal with another set of paperwork. If you do not, it can lead to penalties and other consequences from the IRS, FTB, or other tax authorities.
Have questions about filing taxes during a divorce? Contact us at Romanovska Law to learn more.