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Going through a divorce in Minnesota often means having to share financial information with your former spouse, even after your marriage has ended. This includes tax returns in many cases.

If you’re wondering whether you can avoid turning over your returns to an ex, here is what you need to know about tax return disclosure rules in MN divorce cases.

Tax Return Disclosure in Divorce Discovery

During the discovery process in a divorce, each party has to provide certain financial documents to the other side. This allows both spouses to determine each other’s income, assets, debts, and more before finalizing the divorce settlement.

Tax returns are commonly requested documents during divorce discovery in Minnesota.

Under Minnesota Statute 518.002, both parties must disclose their tax returns from the last 5 years. This includes:

  • Federal tax returns
  • State tax returns
  • W-2s
  • 1099s

This gives each spouse a look into the other’s finances during the last several years of marriage. It can reveal income, deductions, tax refund amounts, and more.

Parties typically have to turn over complete copies of their returns. It’s not enough to simply provide a summary. The full returns must be exchanged.

What if My Ex Doesn’t Want to Share Returns?

You may be reluctant to provide tax returns to an ex-spouse for privacy reasons. However, you likely don’t have much choice if your ex’s lawyer requests them through discovery.

Under Minnesota law, both parties have an obligation to provide complete financial disclosure during divorce cases. If one spouse refuses to share tax returns, the other party can file a motion to compel discovery. This asks the court to order the non-complying party to provide the returns.

If you still fail to hand over returns after a motion to compel, the court can hold you in contempt. This could result in fines or even jail time in some cases.

The best approach is to share the bare minimum tax return info needed to comply with disclosure rules. You may want to black out social security numbers and account numbers not relevant to the divorce case. This protects certain private details while still giving your ex the financial data needed.

How Many Years of Returns Must Be Given?

In Minnesota, the general rule is that the last 5 years of tax returns must be provided. However, there are some exceptions:

  • If you’ve been married less than 5 years, only the returns from during the marriage need to be disclosed.
  • If one party is seeking spousal maintenance, additional returns may be requested to help determine income and support needs.
  • If one parent is seeking child support and a change is needed, returns going back longer than 5 years could be requested to establish historical income.
  • If one party believes funds are missing from marital assets, older returns may be sought in some cases.

Your divorce attorney can tell you specifically how many years of tax returns you need to provide based on your unique case facts. Don’t assume 5 years is always the limit.

When Do I Have to Provide the Returns?

Tax returns and other financial documents are typically exchanged within a few months of filing for divorce in Minnesota. This coincides with the discovery and temporary relief phases of the case.

However, if circumstances change during the case, additional tax return requests could come later. For instance, if you get a big raise at work, your ex may request your newest return to recalculate support obligations.

Providing returns is an ongoing duty for both parties throughout the entirety of an MN divorce case. Make sure you save copies of any returns filed during the proceedings in case your ex’s lawyer asks for them.

Does My Ex Have to Share Returns Too?

The tax return disclosure requirements apply to both spouses equally in Minnesota divorce cases. If your lawyer properly requests returns from the last 5 years, your ex-spouse is obligated to provide copies just as you are.

To ensure you get copies of your ex’s returns, be sure to make the request early in discovery. Follow through with a motion to compel if your ex drags their feet or refuses to cooperate. This will prompt the court to order the returns shared.

Don’t let an obstinate ex-spouse avoid providing tax returns and leave you at a financial information disadvantage during settlement talks. Compel the returns, if necessary, through formal legal procedures.

When Can I Stop Sharing Returns With My Ex?

In most cases, the obligation to share tax returns ends once the divorce is finalized. However, if spousal maintenance is ordered, returns may need to be provided yearly to an ex if their income is relevant to support modifications.

You may also have to share returns if you and your ex must file jointly in the years following divorce. This is common when there are carryovers of deductions or credits from joint returns during marriage. Filing jointly requires cooperation and information sharing.

For parents paying or receiving child support, returns may be requested to recalculate support as incomes change. So you may have to provide returns until all kids age out of the child support system.

Outside of spousal maintenance, joint filing, and child support adjustments, no general legal duty exists to provide copies of returns once a divorce is finalized.

Tax Return Disclosure in Other Case Types

Though this article focuses on divorce cases, tax return sharing can come up in other family law matters too:

  • During legal separation cases, returns must be disclosed, just like in divorce cases. Financial transparency is required while settlement terms are negotiated.
  • In paternity cases, tax returns may need to be provided to establish historical income to calculate child support liability.
  • During child support modifications, former partners often have to share tax returns to prove changes in income used to recalculate support.
  • In child custody disputes, returns may be sought to evaluate a parent’s ability to provide for children financially.

Whenever your financial situation is relevant in a family law matter in Minnesota, expect that current and past tax returns will need to be provided in many situations.

Get Legal Help With MN Divorce Discovery

Divorce discovery involves many complex rules and procedures. A Minnesota family law attorney can help ensure you properly disclose tax returns while also protecting private financial details not relevant to your case.

The attorneys at Martine Law have successfully handled many Minnesota divorce cases for clients across the Twin Cities metro area. We know how to obtain favorable outcomes in negotiations and in court if needed.

Contact our Minneapolis family law office today to schedule a free consultation. We can get started formulating a strategy around tax return disclosure and discovery issues in your divorce. Our goal is to make this difficult process as smooth as possible while protecting your rights.