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And with 1/2 of the income on two returns taxed with brackets that are 1/2 of the size of joint filing brackets, you end up with taxes that are roughly the same total on the two separate returns as they would be on a single joint return.

I live in CA, so community property state. I have run the MFS vs. MFJ scenario a few times on my own taxes (the software asks a few questions, and I get the comparison). And while it's "roughly" the same, it's still a non-trivial $ amount that it would cost us to do MFS. Not $8K, but not $10 either.

I was assuming he was calculating the MFS return correctly... That could be a bad assumption - it's certainly something he should look at.

With no income and no assets, that could become a significant problem for her. The IRS will generally not look to his income and assets to pay her taxes when they file separate returns.
Prior to divorce, can't they go after any jointly held assets?
After divorce, I would expect she would have assets and/or alimony from the divorce settlement...
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