Sometimes, spouses have to make a decision on filing tax returns during a divorce proceeding. The best approach is to seek the advice of your attorney so that the attorney can communicate with the other spouse (if the other spouse is pro se) or the other spouse’s lawyer (if the other spouse is represented by a lawyer) as to the planned method of filing taxes. This prevents inaccurate tax filings by one spouse who may claim a child as a tax dependent only to find out later that the child was already claimed by the other parent.
If both spouses communicate and can agree upon how to file the tax return, this can not only prevent problems in filing but it can also ensure that the most tax advantageous method of filing is used. For example, in most situations, Married Filing Jointly will result in getting the most refund or the least penalty. On the other hand, if one spouse is running a business and the other spouse is concerned about tax liability issues about that business, filing separately might be the prudent course of action. Obviously, finding out what is the most beneficial method of tax filing can be determined by contacting an accountant.
Bottom line: Just because April 15 is around the corner, does not mean that you should automatically file as Married filing Separately. It may pay off to find out the best tax filing status.