Can she claim herself as "single" on taxes before our divorce is final?
I am unable to give you legal advice on divorce. I can give general divorce help for men, though, my knowledge is based on New Jersey divorce laws where I am licensed to practice.
It seems that your wife has elected to change her deduction status for payroll purposes. This change will impact how much is deducted per pay period for mandatory deductions, e.g., federal taxes, state taxes, social security, etc.
A second question exists as to how you and your wife will file your 2012 taxes. Since you are in the process of getting divorced, this issue must be addressed during the divorce.
You can decide to either file jointly or married filing separately. Sometimes clients will agree to utilize an accountant who prepared their prior returns and have the accountant run two different scenarios to determine which filing method is most beneficial.
However, you must determine how the taxes for this year will be filed. Going forward, each party will be responsible for filing his or her own returns.
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If you and your spouse resolve your divorce through an agreement, the 2012 tax filing issue must be addressed.
In addition, since you and your wife have a child, you and your spouse will need to determine how the dependency exemption issue will be resolved. Normally, but not always, this will depend on the child custody arrangement. Parents will often agree to alternate claiming the dependency deduction.
Remember, I am unable to provide you with anything more than divorce tips for men, so please consult with a divorce lawyer in your jurisdiction.
Note: This information is general in nature and should not be construed as tax advice. You should work with your attorney or tax professional to determine the tax advantages that will work best for your situation.