How To File Taxes When Separated or Divorced


If you are separated or divorced and need to file your taxes, you may be wondering how this can be accomplished. First, you will need to obtain IRS Publication 504, which is the instruction booklet that explains how to file taxes when you are separated or divorced. This will provide guidelines from the IRS.

Marital Status Guidelines From The IRS

The IRS uses your marital status from the date of December 31st from the previous year. If you are still married on that date, but you were thinking about separating, you are still viewed as being married by the IRS. However, you do have the ability to file your taxes separately or jointly.

Non-Finalized Separation Or Divorce

If you have filed for divorce, but it hasn’t been finalized by December 31st, you are still considered married. You’ll need to file your taxes under the status listed as Married, Filing Separate. However, some tax experts claim that you can still file with the status Married, Filing Jointly. If you choose to do this, there may be some savings in the taxes that you would pay

Finalized Separation Or Divorce

If your divorce or separation has been finalized by December 31st, you are both required to file as Single by the IRS. However, if you are physically separated from your spouse and living in a separate household for at least six months during the year that’s being taxed, and you are supporting one or more children, the IRS dictates that you have the ability to file with the status Head of Household. Once the divorce decree or separation is finalized, and you become the parent who is supporting a dependent, then you would file with the status Head of Household.

Calculating Your Taxes

With the different scenarios that you may have when you are going through the process of a separation or divorce, you may want to calculate your taxes under different scenarios to see which filing status would give you the most money back. Earned income credits, schedule A, and other types of deductions will be different depending on the marital status that you use. Typically, Married, Filing Jointly will be that status that gives you the best results. If you and your estranged spouse can agree to it, it would be best to use that status when you file your taxes. Of course, this will depend on the status of your relationship and ability to make agreements.