So, I've never been divorced before, and I've always done our taxes. That said, I have no idea how Married Filing Separately works.

My date of separation was in March of this year (2013), and under Virginia state law, the divorce will not be final until March 16, 2014.

As this has been a rough separation, when it comes time to do my taxes for 2013, I suspect that my ex will refuse to give me her W-2. In that situation, do I file the taxes for my portion and ignore her W-2, or do I have to somehow convince her to give me that paperwork?

  • What year was the divorce issued? What tax year are you thinking to file? Oct 11, 2013 at 16:18
  • Do, I'm so used to saying MFJ, that I meant to ask Married Filing Separately. Sorry about that! Oct 11, 2013 at 16:38
  • Your edit is perfect. It might kill mrohan's answer, but at least it clears up the confusion. Oct 11, 2013 at 16:56
  • Definitely run everything by your lawyer as well, just to make sure everyone is on the same page.
    – jonsca
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:21

2 Answers 2


You will need her social security number to file as MFS. You do not need her W-2.

The only other caveat is that if she elects to itemize her deductions, you will have to as well (and vice versa).

From the 1040 instructions:

If you are married and file a separate return, you generally report only your own income, exemptions, deductions, and credits. Generally, you are responsible only for the tax on your own income. Different rules apply to people in community property states; see Pub. 555

VA is not a community property state. There are 8 community property states: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In these states, income is allocated per the community property laws (not the same in all the states). In this case you would be needing the wife's W2.

  • Knowing little about MFS rules, I'll ask - if spouse is hostile, how do you force that data from him/her? I know my wife's SSN, but say I didn't. If not on speaking terms how does he get that and the itemizing status? Oct 11, 2013 at 17:04
  • @Joe assuming you filed MFJ before - just look it up. If not - go to court with your divorce lawyer and ask for it. Itemization - itemize and force her to, if you two are so bad that you can't even agree on letting each other know.
    – littleadv
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:07
  • @JoeTaxpayer That's an important point, and I regret that I don't have the answer to that. I know that in terms of itemizing, the IRS will likely cross-check the SSNs and kick it back if one hasn't filed a Schedule A.
    – jonsca
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:08
  • She will need his SSN as well, so the parties do have to come to some sort of agreement as @littleadv has pointed out.
    – jonsca
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:10
  • @littleadv Thanks (also) for adding in the additional info so this can be useful to others
    – jonsca
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:25

According to the IRS this is your last year for MFS or MFJ but the separated/joint has nothing to do with your marriage status:

Marital status. If you are unmarried, your filing status is single or, if you meet certain requirements, head of household or qualifying widow(er). If you are married, your filing status is either married filing a joint return or married filing a separate return. For information about the single and qualifying widow(er) filing statuses, see Publication 501.

Unmarried persons. You are unmarried for the whole year if either of the following applies.

  • You have obtained a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the last day of your tax year. You must follow your state law to determine if you are divorced or legally separated.

Exception. If you and your spouse obtain a divorce in one year for the sole purpose of filing tax returns as unmarried individuals, and at the time of divorce you intend to remarry each other and do so in the next tax year, you and your spouse must file as married individuals.

  • You have obtained a decree of annulment, which holds that no valid marriage ever existed. You must file amended returns (Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) for all tax years affected by the annulment that are not closed by the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations generally does not end until 3 years (including extensions) after the date you file your original return or within 2 years after the date you pay the tax. On the amended return you will change your filing status to single, or if you meet certain requirements, head of household.

Married persons. You are married for the whole year if you are separated but you have not obtained a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the last day of your tax year. An interlocutory decree is not a final decree.

The big difference between joint or separated is deductions and phaseouts. If the two parties are civil they might be able to do one more joint return. They could also decide to use a common preparer and have them run the numbers both ways. Of course if they can't trust each other that will probably not work.

While you don't need to have the w-2 for the separated spouse you will need to make sure that in this year of division that you both don't claim the same deductions. Both can't claim the same interest and tax expenses for the home...

  • He's asking about MFS, not MFJ. Also, the "opposite sex" is no longer valid (irrelevant to the OP, of course, just pointing out).
    – littleadv
    Oct 11, 2013 at 17:09
  • I pulled the information from the IRS website. Also the question used MFJ multiple times, also the question is not about his divorce it is about his separation. Oct 11, 2013 at 17:29
  • The answer above was correct until OP edited. As I note in my comment re question clarification. Oct 11, 2013 at 18:52
  • Yeah, that was my bad, and I'm sorry. Thank you for the info though... Oct 12, 2013 at 2:00

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