Robert A. Bonavito, CPA PC

How to File My Tax Return During My Divorce

Video Transcript 

My name's Robert Bonavito, New Jersey forensic accountant. This video is part of a series of videos where I discuss forensic accounting topics for educational purposes only. If this was a litigated matter, I would take a different approach, have different conclusions based on different facts and circumstances.

My name's Robert Bonavito, New Jersey forensic accountant. Today's topic we're gonna discuss when you're getting divorced, how do you file. I get lots of calls when people are filing their returns or they're thinking about filing their returns, they wanna know, "How should I file? Should I file, you know, married filing, married or married filing separate?" And I usually tell them, "Listen," I said, "if you think there's an issue with your spouse's return or their income, they have cash and are doing something illegal," I said, "file married filing separate." I said, "That will isolate you from a lot of the problems they have, and you can sleep at night, you don't have to deal with their tax return." It will be more expensive, quite a bit more expensive depending on your situation, so what we usually do is we do a couple different scenarios. We run tax returns, filing joint, you know, separate, you know, move the kids around, all kinds of stuff, and we come up with their alternatives. We said, "If you file a separate return, this is what you're gonna owe. If you file the joint return, this is what you'll owe or get back." There's usually a pretty big difference too, so you really should do the calculation.

But the big benefit that I advise our clients is that when you file a separate return, you don' could always, like, a lotta times people are getting divorced and they reconcile and they get...they stay married, they never go through with the divorce, and meanwhile they filed two years of separate married filing separate returns which cost them, you know, $50,000 or $60,000 because of the additional taxes. But you can amend those returns. I can go back three years and amend the returns and file, you know, a joint return and get those refunds, so there's a lot less risk.

If you are concerned about your spouse's return, the least amount of risk, but it's more expensive, is to file a separate return. And like I said, if you reconcile, we can always go back and amend those returns. So I recommend you take a look at it and just understand that there's no free lunch here, it's gonna cost you more money, but it usually is worth it in the long run if you're really concerned about your spouse's return. My name's Robert Bonavito. If you have any questions, feel free to email me.

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