Our divorce hasn't been finalized yet. He left the house in early June. I still live in it until now and he has been paying for the mortgage (it's his house), and utilities. I'm a full time student without income.
Would filing the tax return jointly benefit me? Him? Or both of us?
This is a question that you should ask your tax preparer because you can provide you preparer with all the documentation needed to prepare the return two ways = married filing joint and married filing separate.
Phillip M. Smith Jr.
Los Angeles Tax & Business Attorney
Licensed in the United States Tax Court
Main: 323-292-4116 ❘ Cell: 562-505-1004
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Most likely, filing jointly will save taxes for him. It also may expose you to liability if there is a balance due. i suggest you both go to the same tax preparer and have the taxes prepared jointly and as married filing separately to determine which is better. Also, consult your divorce lawyer before filing.
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It is really impossible to answer this question without having all the numbers, but most likely joint filing would be better as separate is typically the worst option. The other attorneys are right that you should run the numbers both ways before making a determination.
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I agree with each of the other attorneys. The only thing I would add is that when meeting with a tax preparer make sure that person is neutral and not advocating for either side. Also, you should recognize that any allocation between the two of you for the responsibility for the payment of taxes on a joint income tax return is not binding on the IRS or the Franchise Tax Board (unless a tax clearance certificate under Revenue and Taxation Code section 19006 has previously been issued). So if he fails to pay the taxes for which he is responsible, the law may give the taxing authority power to collect these taxes from you.
Brad Jefferson Landon, Esq. is licensed to practice law in the State of California. Please note that this article does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This article does not create an attorney-client relationship with Brad Jefferson Landon, Esq. For a full consultation call 951-677-7774.