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A clarification about your statement - I thought the filing status was irrevocable, but if I read your statement, it sounds like I can file separately and change it to joint later. I just can't file joint now and change it to separately later. Is that right?

Right. It's a one-way street. Actually, the IRS language on the face of the form (1040-X) says you can amend to file separately, up until the due date of the return, but not after. That's because an amended return filed before April 15 is considered to be the original return, superseding the prior version.

If so, then that opens a solution. I'll file separately now, then immediately prepare an amendment to file jointly. If she signs that, great, and if she doesn't, I just throw it away, but at least my taxes are filed on time.

Well, for one thing, an amended return presupposes that a separate return(s) have been filed. I have a huge prejudice against amended returns if I can help it. Why not prep. the joint return, and see if she'll sign it? If she does, case closed. If not, then you can do the separate return, and if time is running out, file an extension and pay whichever amount you think will likely apply. This gives time for her to change her mind without amending.

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