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Anne_C, Tax Attorney
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 2302
Experience:  Attorney, JD awarded with Certification in Tax Law
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Hi there, While filing my federal tax return with status married

Customer Question

Hi there,
While filing my federal tax return with status "married filing seperately" in California (a community property state), how do I declare my salary income - as community income or seperate income? I was married for the tax year but my spouse lived away (outside the country) for the entire year. IRS webiste mentions if spouses stay separete for entire year then they can treat their individual incomes as non-community? To give more detail on my situation my spouse actually lives and works in another country and may not even file the return in california...And I am not looking forward to bother my spouse asking her salary details..

Let me know if you need more information from me before answering this question correctly.

Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Anne_C replied 5 years ago.

Good Afternoon -

The income you earned is considered Community Property for IRS purposes. However, the income your wife earned is considered Separate Property for IRS purposes - as long as your wife is not "domiciled" in California.

Page 2 of the publication has information for you to check to see if your wife is domiciled in California:

Anne_C and 2 other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for quick response. Still some doubt left...

Looking at the pdf, there is a section titled "Community property laws disregarded". Could you suggest why I would not qualify for that?

Regarding my wife's domicile, she is residing in another country and very likely not going to file return in US. Moreover she may not even reveal her salary to me.. So there is no way for me to calculate and know the true community income, since i don't know her earnings ...

Expert:  Anne_C replied 5 years ago.

Hmmm, I just reread the publication, and at the bottom of the page about spouses living apart, it still says that "you and your spouse" must report the income community property - but then it goes on to state that because you met all of the conditions, community property law must be disregarded!

That being said, keep in mind that when it does come to community property law, it is your income that is considered community property because you live in California. For tax purposes, hers is not considered community property. However, I agree that you fall into that exemption.

By the way, if you anticipate a dissolution of marriage, that is not the way community property is construed by the California Family Code for purposes of spousal and child support, etc.

Sorry for the confusion!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for clarification.

Yes I will be looking for a dissolution... In that context, how will california state see my salary? WIll it be divided, if yes, what will be the distribution?

Expert:  Anne_C replied 5 years ago.


I'm sorry for the delay in the response; I was off line for a while. How your assets are divided if you file for divorce in California will depend on a lot of factors, including how much each of you make. However, what's important is that your wife's income will also be considered community property. You will be able to find out how much she makes by conducting discovery. There are certain procedures to follow, but if she does not comply with them, you can file a Motion to have her held in contempt.

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