Tag: penalties

Can one spouse or the other avoid paying taxes on a joint tax?

Can one spouse or the other avoid paying taxes on a joint tax?

Tax law does not require married couples to file joint income tax returns simply by virtue of being married. So there is no such thing as a “joint tax” in that regard.

Spouses have the option of filing jointly or separately but are not required to file jointly.

Most married couples choose to file their tax returns jointly because there are generally greater tax savings and refunds available to those who file jointly.

This article also has some very interesting, very useful information about when it may make sense for a married couple to file their income tax returns separately. I have provided some excerpts below.

When married couples should file separate tax returns (by Ray Martin, CBS MoneyWatch)

Unreimbursed medical expenses

“Unreimbursed out-of-pocket medical expenses can be claimed as an itemized deduction for amounts that exceed 7.5 percent of the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income. But if a couple has AGI of $140,000 and one spouse has incurred $10,000 of out-of-pocket medical expenses, none of these medical costs are eligible because they don’t exceed the 7.5 percent threshold, which in this example would be $10,500.

“However, if this couple files separately and the one who incurred the medical expenses of $10,000 has AGI of just $30,000, then $7,750 of the medical expenses could be eligible. Combined with other allowable deductions (charitable donations, mortgage interest, the SALT deduction limit of $5,000 for a married separate filer), this could significantly exceed the standard deduction for separate filers, which is $12,000 for each.

You don’t trust your spouse

“A very good reason good reason to file separately is because you don’t feel comfortable signing a joint tax return with your spouse, which both spouses must do when filing jointly. When you file jointly, you take full responsibility with your spouse, and both signers are responsible for the completeness and accuracy of the entire tax return, and each will each bear full responsibility to the IRS for any additional tax, penalty or interest due on an incorrect tax return.

“If you don’t want to merge your tax life with your partner, choosing the separate filing status offers a degree of financial protection because you’re responsible only for your own separately filed tax return.

Separated spouses

“Another good reason to file separate tax returns is that you and your spouse live separately but aren’t yet divorced. In that case, separate returns can help keep your finances separate. This can be especially beneficial if one of the spouses can qualify for head of household status because he or she is supporting the dependent children.


The marriage penalty

“Another closely related tax topic involving marital status concerns the so-called marriage penalty. It refers to the situation when two people with the same income would pay more tax if they get married and file a joint return than if they stay single and file separately as singles.”

To find out whether it makes sense for you and your spouse to file separately or jointly, it’s worth consulting an accountant or tax preparer now, so that you are prepared to file your best return come April 15th. The fee charged for a consultation is well worth it for what it can save you in taxes.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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New Child Support Enforcement Penalties!

New Child Support Enforcement Penalties!

In the 2020 legislative session the Utah State legislature passed a new Utah Code section, section 23-19-5.5. This new law–effective July 1, 2021–provides that an individual who is delinquent on a child support obligation may not apply for, obtain, or “attempt to obtain” hunting or fishing license, permit, or tag AND also provides that license, permit, and tag restrictions remain effective until the Office of Recovery Services notifies the State division of wildlife that the delinquent child support obligor has either paid the delinquency in full or complied for at least 12 consecutive months with a payment schedule entered into with the Office of Recovery Services.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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What is the penalty for breaking a custody order?

What is the penalty for breaking a custody order?

In my opinion, the answer is: usually, not much. At least at first.

Take it from me: I’ve been a divorce and family lawyer now for 23 years and most (most, not all) courts don’t really do as much as people feel they should do to ensure that there will be hell to pay if child custody orders are violated (especially if the violator is the mother).

Harsh words, I know. Politically incorrect words, yes? And still no less true.

What can the penalties be for violating child custody orders? Generally speaking:

  • fines
  • compensatory service (like picking up trash on the interstate, volunteering at soup kitchens, etc.)
  • jail (only in the most egregious cases, if the court has the will to impose it)
  • orders that the noncompliant parent submit to counseling and/or take parenting and anger management classes and other such nonsense

Now if one repeatedly and unrepentantly violates custody orders with impunity the court could respond by modifying the custody order, but for that to occur the violations usually have to be highly voluminous and/or egregious.

Utah Family Law, LC | | 801-466-9277

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