Preparing Your Tax Estimates

The first step in preparing a tax estimate would be to gather all the relevant information. Often, one spouse manages the bookkeeping for the family. If your spouse traditionally took care of that business and is uncooperative about sharing the information, you may have to employ the assistance of an attorney or even possibly the court. Before enacting these types of measures, however, you may wish to point out that the legal fees of both you and your spouse will rise dramatically should these avenues become necessary.

Another way of obtaining relevant information would be to contact the family accountant, who should be able to provide copies of previous returns. Another option is to contact the IRS and acquire Form 4506. By executing and returning this form and returning it to the IRS, they will make available all SIGNED copies. The IRS also makes several informational publications available that can provide key advice to persons going through a divorce. The most significant of these publications would be:

  • Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals
  • Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deductions, and Filing Information
  • Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals
  • Publication 505, Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax
  • Publication 552, Recordkeeping For Individuals
  • Publication 555, Community Property (for those living in Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, or Wisconsin)

Once the estimates are completed, it is now time to make one of the most important decisions of the entire divorce : how will you file your taxes?



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INNOCENT SPOUSE RULE -- Section 434(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code protects an innocent spouse from tax fraud prosecution under certain conditions. This rule mainly protects women who innocently sign returns while married to men who controlled the finances. An innocent spouse can be protected from liability if 1) a joint return was filed, 2) the return contains a "grossly erroneous" error, 3) he or she establishes "lack of knowledge," and 4) it is "inequitable" to impose the tax on him or her. This rule does not protect the spouse from any legitimate tax obligations for which he or she is responsible under joint and several liability.

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