If you file separately, the liability is kept separate.

HOWEVER, the inequities (if any) can be considered if you go to court for equitable distribution, so you may get the refund, but a smaller share of the marital property, for example.

Here is some of what I understand. If you are legally separated as of Dec.31st, you can file as separated. This isn’t always the best way to file because one of you might really take a hit.

Do you have kids? You can file head of household if you meet certain very narrowly defined criteria…like you paid for over 1/2 of the mortgage and utilities. Head of household has a much better tax break.

If you separated during the year then a portion of the taxes will be marital and a portion will be separate. For example, if you separated on June 30th then roughly half of the taxes will be marital and half of the refund will be marital. You will divide the marital portion of the refund equally. The same would be true for the tax debt. I have given you a simplified answer, but the question is complicated enough that you should consult with an account to determine your liabilities separate and together and decide which way would be best for you file.

Helena M. Nevicosi
Attorney with Rosen Law Firm

4101 Lake Boone Trail, Suite 500
Raleigh, North Carolina 27607
919.787.6668 main phone
919.787.6361 main fax

Charlotte Office
301 McCullough Drive
Suite 510
Charlotte, NC 28262
Main Phone: (704)307.4600
Main Fax: (704) 9343.0044

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Chapel Hill, NC 27514
(919) 321.0780

The response posted above is based upon the limited factual information made available and is not intended as a full and complete response to the question. The only reliable manner to obtain complete and adequate legal advice is to consult with an attorney, fully explain your situation, and allow the attorney sufficient opportunity to research the applicable law and facts required to render an accurate opinion. The basic information provided above is intended as a public service only, a full discussion with an attorney should be undertaken before taking any action. The information posted on this forum is available for public viewing and is not intended to create an attorney client relationship with any individual. These answers are provided for informational purposes only, a person should consult with their own individual legal counsel before taking any action that could affect their legal rights or obligations.

My wife moved out to pursue her new life without signing a separation agreement. She is self employed(1099) while I have taxes withheld(W-2). I am entitled to a refund if I fill married/ separately while she is responsible for a sizeable tax burden if she files separarely. Is she entitled to 1/2 of my refund and am I responsible for 1/2 half of her tax liability??