Can my wife change a return that's already been filed?

April 12, 2006

Date:  Mon, 20 Mar 2006
From:  Sam

My wife and I filed 2005 individual income tax returns married, filing jointly. I filed for divorce during February 2006. Now she wants to refile her return as married, filing a separate return. Can she change her filing status after the income tax returns were filed?


Date:  Mon, 03 Apr 2006

Hello Sam,

It appears to me she can refile her income tax returns as married, filing separately provided the "corrected" income tax return is submitted by April 17, 2006. (Treasury Regulations Section 1.6013-1(a).) This will invalidate the joint return election, requiring you to also file a separate return. If you live in a community property state, community income and deductions should be split between the two income tax returns, which could have a similar income tax result to filing a joint return, with a few exceptions.

People who are getting divorced often choose to file separate income tax returns to avoid joint and several income tax liability. See your attorney.

Good luck!
Mike Gray

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