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Should We File Separate or Joint Tax Returns While Divorcing?

Hi Hindell,

My wife and I are going through a divorce. I’m worried that if we continue filing joint tax returns, she may not fully disclose her income. Should we continue filing joint tax returns, or should I file separately? What are the advantages and disadvantages of each option?

Sincerely,

Confused in Cambridge

There is usually a financial advantage to filing joint tax returns while divorcing as they tend to save the parties taxes, but if there is a tax liability or refund which results, it is often difficult to determine who pays or receives what amount.   This is often resolved by either negotiation or the determination of the parties’ accountant.   Sometimes there is suspicion by one party that the other has not fully disclosed their income, thereby suggesting some tax fraud liability if they file joint tax returns.  In this case, the suspicious spouse should not file jointly with the other and should file as a married person filing separately even if the total tax liability due from each spouse is more than would be due if filed jointly.  

Best wishes,

Hindell Grossman

Hindell has successfully negotiated, litigated and arbitrated hundreds of cases on behalf of her clients. Several of her successes have been published in Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly and she has been featured in the Needham Tab, Boston Business Journal and the Boston Globe.

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