To rebate or reprobate?
March 25, 2008 7:32 PM   Subscribe

TaxRebateFilter: I have searched and cannot find a concrete answer. Married, separated for over a year but no legal agreement. Do we need to file jointly to get Mr. Bush's rebate? The reason this is anonymous inside

I am not opposed to filing "married filing separately". I just want to make sure that I am not making a big mistake. The $1200+ 2 kids (his) rebate would be a nice thing to receive. I would only want my $600 and nothing else. And then again, it’s just $600, right? We are getting divorced but neither has filed. I swore this wouldn't be a long question! And my first question is a relationship one too...eek. But here we go. I quit my job, moved, married him and cared for his 2 children two years (we had known eachother for 20 years). One of whom is severely disabled. He makes 60k+. I left for many reasons. I made 9k last year w/ no support from him. I didn’t ask. Thank you mom and dad! Am I setting a precedent for any future “negotiations” by filing separate? He told me to go ahead and do so. I am only mentioning the following b/c it may be relevant: he is in a famous band with the potential to make a lot of money. He also has a famous defense atty lawyer. He is currently broke for whatever reason that a “rockstar” might be broke. You do the math. What exactly am I asking? What do I need to consider right now that won’t regret in the future? I gave up everything and a silly tax rebate may not be worth it but dammit, I gave up everything and have nothing to show. That money would sure help out a lot. Do I get the rebate if I file alone? If I file alone will it hurt me in the divorce? I know you guys/gals aren’t tax lawyers. Advice anyways? Throwaway email address:
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a lawyer? I know you are broke, but perhaps your parents, whom you mention, could help, or you might be able to find someone to represent you pro bono. But I bet your rockstar ex has a good lawyer and we don't want you to get screwed! Divorce is all about separation of assets and no matter what your relationship is or was, you need to protect yourself (says the daughter of a family lawyer). Incidentally, this is the kind of question a good or even "meh" lawyer can help you answer.

On preview: mind you, I'm not suggesting you go all Heather Mills and take money his kids might need. But you do want to make sure you protect yourself.
posted by lunasol at 7:52 PM on March 25, 2008

I'm pretty sure you'd get the $600 rebate if you filed separately. You could probably call the IRS help line to find out for sure -- 1-800-829-1040. Good luck!
posted by jenne at 8:23 PM on March 25, 2008

Run your numbers through the IRS's calculator: That should let you know if you will qualify for the full $600, or only $300, or some amount in between.

If you file jointly you will be liable for any mistakes or fraud on his tax return. If you don't trust him to be honest with the IRS, then I would file separately. It is not worth the risk of getting in criminal trouble with the IRS for $300 (the maximum difference, if there even is one, between filing separately and jointly). Also, my understanding is that you cannot have the rebate check split, so you would also have to trust your ex to give you your share if you filed jointly.

I think it's pretty common for separated spouses to file separately, so I don't see how that would hurt you in the divorce settlement, but IANAL. Keep in mind that your and his tax returns might be involved as evidence of income when deciding on the settlement, though.
posted by Jacqueline at 11:34 PM on March 25, 2008

As long as you have $3000 in earned income (from work, Social Security, self-employment, whatever), you'll get the $600. To file "married filing separately" has no bearing on the future at all.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 1:04 AM on March 26, 2008

Incorrect. If you have $3000 in earned income, you'll get at least $300, but not necessarily the full $600, if you did not have $600 in income tax liability. Read the FAQ!

Individual rebate checks will range from $300 to $600. You need to earn at least $3000 to qualify for the minimum rebate of $300. You rebate check will increase with your income tax liability, to a maximum of $600, unless you have an adjusted gross income over $75,000, and then it will start adjusting downwards again.

That's why you should use the IRS's Economic Stimulus Payment Calculator to estimate the amount of your check, instead of making assumptions.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:21 AM on March 26, 2008

Running's OP's $9k through this income tax liability calculator indicates that her income tax liability is so low that she would only qualify for $300 by filing separately. (However, IANAAccountant.)

So, OP, you will probably lose $300 by filing separately instead of jointly. Only you can decide whether that $300 is worth whatever risk and hassle there might be in filing jointly with the ex.
posted by Jacqueline at 1:30 AM on March 26, 2008

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