Jointly usually works out best. You can file an Injured Spouse to protect your portion of the refund.
When filing jointly, the Injured Spouse Allocation (Form 8379) lets you recover your portion of your refund that was kept by the IRS to pay your spouse's debt (back taxes, back child support, etc.). Form 8379 can be filed right with your taxes. No special signature is needed.
You must file jointly to use this form. Also, filing an 8379 will delay your federal refund by up to 14 weeks.
To enter Injured Spouse information:
- Go to Federal Taxes on the left side of your screen.
- Go to the Other Tax Situations tab on the top of your screen.
- Choose Miscellaneous Tax Forms.
- Click Start on Report an injured or innocent spouse claim.
- On the next screen, say yes, you want to file an innocent or injured spouse claim.
- On the Innocent and Injured Spouse Relief screen, click Continue (you are not filing for innocent spouse relief).
- On the next screen, once again click Continue.
- The next screen is Let's See if You Qualify for Injured Spouse Relief. Select your state, if it isn’t pre-selected. Answer the question on the next screen and continue.
- Be careful on the next screen Tell Us More About Your Situation to select everything that applies to you. it’s important that you are filing a joint return, that there is some debt of your spouse that may reduce your refund (you can choose more than one) and that you are not liable for this debt. Without all three factors, you won’t qualify for injured spouse treatment.
- Continue entering information from your return.
Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, will be filed along with your tax return.