Filing your taxes is always frustrating and complex, but divorce may make tax season even more stressful for you. Divorce has a significant impact on your taxes, so you should do some preparation before you try to do it all at the last minute.
Getting a divorce changes how you file your taxes, including any deductions or exemptions you claim. Here are three essential tips regarding divorce and taxes.
1. Know your filing status
According to TurboTax, the first thing you should do when filing for taxes after divorce is determine the correct filing status. The IRS likely treats you as married if you were still legally married on December 31 of the tax year. In this case, you will still file as a married person. Whether you file jointly or separately depends on whether you want to take advantage of the joint status or you have concerns about your ex-spouse underreporting income or racking up penalties.
2. Determine who claims children as dependents
You and your spouse should never try to simultaneously claim your kids as dependents. The IRS does not allow multiple parents to claim the same children. Your divorce decree may specify which parent will claim the children. However, if this is not the case, then it is likely the custodial parent who will get to claim the exemption.
3. Do not count interim monetary support as alimony
Perhaps you gave your spouse some money before the divorce was final. While this is a nice gesture, you should avoid trying to take advantage of it at tax time. Only payments made because of a court order and classified as alimony are deductible.
Dealing with taxes after your divorce may be the last thing you want to do, but it is necessary and not so scary once you get the hang of it. Adhere to these tips, and tax season will go more smoothly.