How to File Your Taxes

It’s January and you’re starting to get your W-2’s, 1099’s and other tax documents in the mail and you’re ready to file your taxes.  You may have been through a divorce in 2012, contemplating divorce, or you may have received a final decree of separate support and maintenance but haven’t been divorced yet.  The question comes up often about what filing status you should use when you prepare your tax returns: married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household or single.

There is often a benefit to filing married filing jointly or as head of household rather than filing married filing separately or single.  I’m sure people file with the incorrect status every year so they can get a larger refund or have to pay less in taxes.  Here’s how to figure out the status you should file:

You filed for divorce in 2012 but the divorce has not been finalized and there is no final order of separate maintenance.

Since you are still married and there has been no action for separate support and maintenance filed, your options for filing status will be limited to married filing jointly or married filing separately.

A Final Order of Separate Support and Maintenance was entered in 2012

Since you have been issued a final order of separate support and maintenance you are still married, so you have the option to file married filing jointly, married filing separately, or head of household if you meet the additional requirements for that filing status.

You were divorced in 2012

Your marital status on December 31 is the determining factor for your tax filing status for that year.  Even if you were married the majority of the year, but you were divorced sometime in 2012, you must file either single or head of household (if you meet the additional requirements).

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