Help with my goddamn taxes after the goddamn separation
March 23, 2018 7:51 AM   Subscribe

Is a NYS "legal separation" (a contract between my ex and myself, signed through lawyers and stamped by courts) count as unmarried by IRS standards, or do I have to file under "married filing separately"? You'd think this is a simple MFing question but noooooooooo. Warning: There is only swearing within, this is my entire question.

What the fuck is this shit, I mean, as if the goddamn separation wasn't hard enough to negotiate and sign, as if the fucking divorce decree taking until January 3018 to come through wasn't bad enough, now there's this<> crap too? COME ON I JUST NEED ONE GODDAMN YES OR NO ANSWER.

posted by MiraK to Work & Money (7 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Could you call your lawyer and ask? Or call a CPA? This is the type of question that the wrong advice could have annoying and expensive implications, and you need real advice, not internet strangers.
posted by FergieBelle at 8:06 AM on March 23, 2018 [3 favorites]

Have you seen this page? It's a little hard to parse BECAUSE OF COURSE but I think it answers your question.

December 31 is an important day for separated couples. The IRS considers you married for the entire tax year when you have no separation maintenance decree by the final day of the year. If you are married by IRS standards, you can only choose "married filing jointly" or "married filing separately" status. You cannot file as "single" or "head of household."

Since the IRS honors the divorce laws of the states, where you live affects your options as well. In Texas, for example, you remain married from a tax perspective until your divorce is final, even though you're legally separated.

It sounds like it's all proceeding from the assumption that if you do have a separation maintenance decree, you are not married by IRS standards. If you file with TurboTax, this is the kind of question you should be able to ask them, if you don't have access to a CPA or a lawyer.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:22 AM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

I am pretty sure you are considered unmarried, assuming this is a "final" separation decree and not an "interlocutory" one. From the "Unmarried Persons" section of IRS Publication 504: "You are unmarried for the whole year if. . . [y]ou have obtained a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the last day of your tax year. You must follow your state law to determine if you are divorced or legally separated."

(Been there. I'm sorry. It gets better.)
posted by Siobhan at 8:26 AM on March 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

All the feels for your situation. I've had issues with the IRS in the past, and every time I've called them, the agent has been helpful, friendly, and polite. Can you call them directly and say, here's my situation, what's the answer?
posted by disconnect at 8:55 AM on March 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

This isn't exactly the answer to your question, but it might help. I was in a similar position last year (stipulation of settlement signed, divorce filed with the court, but no judgment of divorce yet), and assumed that married was married for tax purposes. Turned out that because I have dependent children and we'd been living separately for more than half the year, the IRs regs said I could file as Head of Household.

If you've got kids living with you, that might be your category.
posted by LizardBreath at 11:45 AM on March 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Also, the length of time it takes NYS courts to grant an uncontested divorce? Can bite me. They are the worst.
posted by LizardBreath at 11:47 AM on March 23, 2018

Called IRS. I'm head of the motherfucking household. BOW BEFORE ME.

(Thanks MeFi.)
posted by MiraK at 11:49 AM on March 23, 2018 [147 favorites]

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