A Taxing Look at Marriage, Gender and Divorce

Article excerpt

Q. My wife refuses to sign our joint income tax return, just because our marriage may be going down the tubes. What can I do?

A. A joint return must be signed by both spouses, even if only one had income. Because your wife refuses to sign a joint return, you must each file a separate return if either had income of $2,450 or more for 1994.

*****

Q. If I file separately, claiming all the itemized deductions, can my husband file using the standard deduction for nonitemizers?

A. No. Both spouses must use the same method of handling deductions. If you itemize, so must your husband.

*****

Q. Because of my problems as a transsexual, I plan to undergo a sex- change operation. Can I count on a medical deduction for this expensive procedure?

A. Yes. It is not likely that the IRS will challenge your deduction, so long as the operation is performed on doctor's orders. But make sure to get a written statement from your doctor to nail down the deduction. And do not overlook your transportation to and from the hospital. That is also deductible, notes Kenneth Gordon, a partner in the New York City law firm of Tenzer, Greenblatt, Fallon & Kaplan.

*****

Q. My husband and I went to a counseling center run by our church. We spoke to a clergyman about some of our marital problems. Because of his counseling, both of us definitely feel that our mental outlook is improved and that we are enjoying a more pleasant relationship. We would, however, feel even better if we could be certain that the IRS would permit us to deduct the counseling fees. …