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They probably changed the date because you can't bed (legally) separated & live in the same house in the circumstances you describe.
As far as filing separately, it is difficult to tell you with a high degree of certainly
without more information with respect to both of your earnings & withholding
In your circumstances, where your wife hasn't paid anything in & hasn't paid you anything, which she probably considers covered her taxes while she was doing that; it is hard to imagine that you won't come out better filing Married Filing Separately.
If you would be stuck with a lower refund (that you might even have split with her) by filing jointly, then MFS is the answer.
You also have the deductions related to your homes; so I don't know if you do your own returns or what, but would you even have her information to be able to file jointly?
The issue would be that if you filed jointly & she didn't report all of her income & tips, you could be held responsible for those extra taxes, interest & penalties if you filed jointly with her; so the botXXXXX XXXXXne is that I see enough of potential problems that could come your way by filing jointly.
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I am 100% sure that I am better off filing seperately as far as return money. I feel that they may make me give her half of what I get back, even though she paid zero in any kind of taxes. She will not like it if I say I'm going to file seperately, she will get her attorney to try to stop me. I just don't like to deal with that.
I gues what I need to know is, if I file my own, then tell her later, what kind of trouble may I be in?
No trouble. You have the absolute right to file alone. However, you stated that your wife would be upset. Well obviously I can't speak to that; sometimes it seems wives are always upset about something. You may want to tell your attorney what you're going to do & why, just so he knows.
Thank you very much.