Going through a divorce is a very stressful time. You need to figure out child custody, child support, division of property, etc… However, there is one thing that may have not made it on your list of things to remember- taxes.
Marital Status on The Last Day Of The Year Determines Tax Filing Status
Many things come into play as far as taxes are concerned when going through a divorce. The first thing to know is that you are supposed to file based on your status on the last day of the tax year. That means if you get divorced on December 28, you file single for the entire year! Similarly, if you get divorced on January 2, you will need to file jointly (or married filing separately) for the prior year.
Don’t Forget About Alimony
Alimony may be a factor, and is governed by the divorce decree or separation agreement. Note that if you get into a situation where Spouse A owes Spouse B for alimony, and Spouse B owes child support back to Spouse A, do not NET them! The IRS only allows you to take the NET amount as alimony. If you pay the entire amount, and get a separate check back, you can take the FULL amount.
Refund Checks Can Be Tricky
Refund checks (or direct deposits) are always an exciting factor. If you are due a refund with your former spouse, make sure it goes to a neutral party who will give you ONLY the refund you are entitled to. If your former spouse gets you to sign on the back of the check and cashes it into their account, you may never see the refund! Similarly, do not direct deposit it into an account you do not have control of! My recommendation is to have a check sent to the Certified Public Accountant’s office. Then have both spouses come in to sign it. The CPA can then cash the check and remit the appropriate amounts to each spouse.
Even before you get divorced, it is important to get advice to determine the tax issues at hand. For example, what if he gets the primary residence and you get the rental house to live in? The tax bases are likely very different, and you will end up owing tax on a gain of a former rental that he can exclude from his residence since it qualified as a primary residence. There are many other factors to consider in divorce taxation. The IRS publication number 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals, deals with many of these issues, but it is important that you discuss all of these with your Reno Certified Public Accountant before they bite you!
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