Tax Tips Part 1: Married, Separated, Divorced


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For most people tax season ends on April 15, as individual tax returns are due to the federal government. It’s been this way ever since 1955. For a good many other folks, however, tax season can last much longer, as individuals scramble to file extensions. One particular area of importance, and potential confusion, revolves around individuals filing their returns as married, separated, or divorced. It can be confusing, but the law is clear in this matter. Here are a few things you need to know.

  • If a couple is separated at least one day out of the tax year, a spouse may file separately from their husband or wife.
  • Couples are considered unmarried if they obtain a filed Final Decree of Divorce, even if it’s on the last day of the tax year.
  • A person may consider filing separately if his/her spouse has had problems in the past properly reporting all of his/her income.
  • Filing jointly, knowing that a spouse has failed to accurately report all income, could make both individuals criminally liable to tax authorities.
  • If you file jointly and taxes are owed for the past years of your marriage—even if you are currently divorced—the IRS will hold both parties culpable.
  • Failure to pay these taxes or to follow a tax settlement plan may subject your assets to seizure by the IRS.

Have tax questions? We can help

Obviously, marital status plays a big role in one’s tax filings. It’s important that individuals understand the law in order to avoid potential problems with the IRS down the road. Currently, in the state of South Carolina, the only method available to offset any tax liability owed by your spouse is to enforce the terms of your final agreement or Final Decree, assuming that there is adequate protective language in the final Order. For these reasons listed above, it is imperative that your lawyer be familiar with all the legal variables as it applies to filing status amongst couples—whether you’re married, separated, or single. A sound attorney will craft specific language to adequately protect you in the event there are serious tax issues during your marriage, or dissolution. Contact us today.

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