Separate But Filing

Adam's wife agreed to file together on their income tax return, but she switched it up. What does this mean for him?

QUESTION: Adam and his wife are getting a divorce. They mutually agreed to file income taxes together, but she pulled a switch and filed separately. They have a child, who she claimed on her returns. He makes $21,000 a year and she makes a little more. What are his options?

ANSWER: She certainly can be married and file separately, and so can you. It costs you a little more. It won’t matter much if you file married filing jointly, because you aren’t paying that much in taxes. I don’t think this has damaged you in any way, but you need to get with a certified public accountant and do your taxes. You’ll file married filing separately, because that’s what you are. I think she’s made a mistake in her filing, but that’s her problem. She claimed the kid, so that will increase what she gets back from the government.

You need to determine who claims the child in the divorce settlement going forward in the other years. When you’re doing the divorce settlement, if she’s going to have primary custody and you pay child support, then usually she will claim the child as a dependent. But that can be worked out either way in the divorce settlement.