A quick recap: Last January, Voldemort asked me to go to marriage counseling with him. I agreed. We went twice. On March 29, he sent me an email that he was moving out, told the kids that night, and was gone before they woke up the next morning. I didn’t see or speak to him until December (see: He Speaks).
In all that time, he never filed for legal separation or divorce; he didn’t make any effort to arrange for visitation or custody; he made no arrangements regarding the mountain of personal possessions he left behind; and he didn’t change his address with the post office. That’s right, his mail still comes here (see: Friday’s Mail Mystery).
He transfers an amount of money from his separate account into our joint account most months, an amount he determined and informed me of in his departure email. Two-thirds of that amount goes to house expenses every month (you know, the mortgage, the real estate taxes, the HOA fees, the solar panel lease, the insurance). I scramble to pay for all the other expenses from what’s left. Hint: it ain’t easy.
But I thought I’d get a decent refund when I filed my (separate) taxes this year. My filing status is complicated since we’re still legally married and there’s no separation agreement. There’s no way I’m filing jointly with him; I have no idea what he’s been up to since he wandered off and I’m not signing IRS forms under penalty of perjury with him. I don’t want to go to jail. So I called a tax accountant to find out WTF. Well, I got an earful.
Since there’s no alimony agreement, the money he transfers to our joint account every month isn’t technically alimony or child support. I don’t have to claim it as income and he can’t claim it as a deductable expense. And since I don’t have any other income, I don’t have to file a tax return. Because it’s an income tax return. Doesn’t seem too bad until you realize that means I can’t get deductions for the mortgage I paid every month or the real estate taxes I paid twice last year. No. In fact, Voldemort could try to claim those deductions on his (separate) return.
That’s messed up. He hasn’t lived here for 10+ months, but he can claim the mortgage interest deduction? And the property tax deduction? I’m scraping to pay for piano lessons and doing all the home maintenance, but he gets the write-offs?
That doesn’t sound right to me. The tax guy said he’d check some more and call me back, but I haven’t heard from him. So I used the tax assistant on the IRS website. According to the IRS, I’m not required to file a return, which means I can’t claim deductions for mortgage interest or property taxes. Because I don’t have a job or a legal separation agreement. Kinda sorry I paid those property taxes now.
Voldemort’s W-2 from work came in the mail a couple of weeks ago, so I’m guessing he thinks I’ll just file the taxes as usual. Unfortunately, I marked it “Return to sender, not at this address” and dropped it off at the post office before I talked to the tax accountant. Damn it.