During a Divorce, Tax Return Information Can Pose Challenges

Orange County, CA (Law Firm Newswire) October 31, 2010 — Obtaining an ex-spouse’s tax return is not always an easy task, and often, the other side ignores requests for information.

Divorcing parties should first make such a request politely to increase the chances of receiving the requested material. Antagonizing the other spouse is usually counterproductive, even though it is his or her statutory duty to provide the information requested.

Ignoring such a request may be viewed as stalling, and the spouse seeking to obtain a fair support amount may find it necessary to refer to the various sanctions the law has constructed for those who do not comply.

“Requests like this typically fall under the purview of the California Family Code Section 3665,” explained Gerald Maggio, an Orange County divorce lawyer. “Usually, a tax return is requested after a final judgement for a paternity or divorce case, where one spouse wants information to determine if there is a change in the other spouse’s income that may affect seeking increased alimony and/or child support.”

The document needed for requesting the other spouse’s tax return is FL-397, named “Request for Income and Expense Declaration After Judgment.” Alimony payments and similar reimbursements from a spouse or former spouse are taxable as income in the year they are received and noted on Form 1040, line 11.

There are some payments that do not qualify as alimony or spousal support. They include, but are not limited to: child support, retirement benefits, property settlement payments (even if outlined in the divorce decree) and other independent payment transactions made before they are necessary by a divorce decree.

Family support, if it is not specifically broken down into spousal and child support, is considered to be alimony. “If it is broken down into each category, you would pay less tax, as payments apply first to child support. The balance is considered to be alimony,” said Maggio.

“FL-397 needs to be appended to the tax return,” Maggio added. “If the situation is fairly straightforward and one spouse is requesting tax information of another spouse, the process can go smoothly. However, if the other spouse has remarried and files joint tax returns, the information available is severely restricted.” Joint income tax filings can be reworked to ensure that the new spouse’s information is removed from the returns, so joint filing does not actually bar a former spouse from obtaining the requested information. It may be necessary for a judge to peruse the information and make a ruling about how much information may be revealed.

Learn more at http://www.maggiolawfirm.com

The Maggio Law Firm
Main Office
43 Corporate Park Suite 209
Irvine, CA 92606
Call: (949) 553-0304

Riverside Office
3750 University Avenue, Suite 670
Riverside, CA 92501
Call: (949) 553-0304

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