November 29, 2016

Monthly Misconception for November – “If we divorce in December we can still file our taxes jointly.”

You  will save a few thousand dollars in income taxes if you and your soon to be former spouse file jointly for 2016.  She tells you “If we finalize the divorce in December we’ll have been married for almost all of 2016 so we can file our taxes jointly. If you agree to finalize this in December then I’ll promise to file jointly.”  

Is she right?  No.  Can you rely upon her promise?  No.


Federal and state income tax filing status depends, among other things, upon marital status as of December 31 of the tax year in question.  Divorced on December 31, 2016 – can’t file jointly for 2016 even if both former spouses want to.  Divorced on January 2, 2017  (courts are closed on January 1) – can file jointly for 2016 if both former spouses want to and as long as there isn’t a court order otherwise.


Often Connecticut divorce  law and the Internal Revenue Code leave much room for interpretation.  Filing status, in particular whether a tax payer qualifies or doesn’t qualify for married joint filing status, isn’t one of those cloudy areas.  The most relevant question, which is easy to determine, is – in what year was your divorce finalized?

« Back to all news