If my divorce didn’t process until early in 2019, but we had lived independently for two years, do I have to file my 2018 taxes as married but separate?

by Judith Herron, CPA | Feb 14, 2019

My divorce didn't go through until Jan. 4, 2019, but my ex and I have lived separately for almost two years. We didn't help each other financially during that time. Do I really have to file married but separate for 2018 taxes?

If you were married on the last day of the year, two conditions need to be present to avoid a filing status that is married:

  • You and your spouse lived apart during the last six months of the year
  • You paid more than half of the cost of keeping up a home for yourself and your dependent child who lived with you for more than six months.
If those are both true, you can file as head of household. If you do not have a child, you cannot file as head of household, and married filing separately would be your best option.

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Answered by: Judith Herron, CPA, is with Markovitz Dugan & Associates in Pittsburgh, Pa

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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