What are a spouse’s tax liability in a community property state?

Mens divorce lawyerQuestion:

I live in a community property state. My wife and I are currently married, but will soon be divorced. She refuses to give me a copy of her financial records or cooperate at all in the process of doing our taxes.

What are my options to file taxes without her financial information? How are tax liabilities distributed in a community property state?


Since I practice exclusively in the area of domestic relations, I cannot advise you on the specifics of your question regarding federal income taxes. Due to the fact that tax laws are complex and constantly changing a tax attorney or a Certified Public Accountant should be consulted for a through understanding of the tax liabilities in your specific situation.

With that being said, in a community property state, such as Texas, each spouse is liable for the federal income tax on one-half of all community income. However, a spouse’s tax liability may be increased or decreased depending upon the filing status as married, married filing separate or head of household.

When you chose to file a joint tax return, you and your spouse are generally both jointly liable for the full amount of taxes due on the total of your incomes and you both will need to sign the tax return. However, when you file a tax return under “married filing separately” you will be personally liable only for the federal income tax on that return.

Since I am not a tax attorney, I cannot advise you on the specifics of your question. What I can tell you is that if your spouse refuses to participate in your tax return while you are still married, you have the option of filing your taxes as married filing separately so that you will most likely not be jointly liable for the full amount of your combined incomes.

Please contact a tax attorney for more answers or to get specific advice relating to your situation. Please be advised that my answering of this question does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

Cordell & Cordell has men’s divorce lawyers located in 18 states.


Jennifer Hankinson is a Staff Attorney in the Dallas, Texas office of Cordell & Cordell, where she practices domestic relations exclusively. Ms. Hankinson is licensed in the state of Texas. Ms. Hankinson received her bachelors’ degrees in both Finance and Political Science from Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California. She later received her Juris Doctor from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington, where she graduated Cum Laude.  

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