As we head into a new year, most people can’t help but think about the approaching tax season. If you’ve recently separated from a spouse or filed for divorce, you’ll likely have questions pertaining to how this will affect your 2019 tax return. Meeting with an experienced CPA can help you navigate through this complex process, but to help you get a head start on planning for taxes, consider your answers to the following questions:
When Should I File as Single?
If you’re still legally married by December 31st, of 2019, you will not be able to file as “single” or “head of household.” According to TurboTax: “The IRS considers you married for the entire tax year when you have no separation maintenance decree by the final day of the year.” Therefore, you will need to work with your CPA to decide whether to file under the following statuses, in accordance with your state’s divorce laws:
- Married filing jointly
- Married filing separately
Difference Between Filling Jointly vs. Filling Separately
As noted, if your divorce is not final at the end of 2019, you’ll need to decide whether to file a joint married return or a separated married return. This choice will depend on many factors, but the main difference between the two is one offers you eligibility for a higher standard deduction (The Balance); however, this also makes you liable for the amount of taxes due, as well as any penalties or accumulation of interest for unpaid debts after April 15th (TurboTax). Therefore, you will likely play more if you file separately, but you won’t be responsible for any tax debts your ex-spouse owes the IRS.
Can You Claim Children as Dependents?
The IRS allows one parent to claim a child on a tax return. If you are the custodial guardian to your child and your child stays with you for the majority of the year, you will be able to claim your son or daughter as a dependent. In some cases, when recently separated or divorced couples have two children, they may each decide to claim one child as a dependent (The Balance).
Can You Deduct Child Support Payments?
According to the IRS, “Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable income to the recipient.” However, if the child has lived with the payer of the child support for the majority of the year, you may be eligible to claim your child as a dependent.
Are Any Legal Fees Deductible from a Divorce?
Divorce legal fees are typically considered personal expenses, but some attorney fees for divorce may be deductible, particularly if the fees pertain to services regarding tax advice, alimony, or spousal support following divorce.
Still Have Questions About Divorce Law?
Taxes are both time consuming and confusing, especially in the wake of a divorce. It’s important to understand your rights and how to file properly to ensure federal compliance and the financial success of you and your loved ones. If you’re considering a divorce or have questions about its proceedings, contact KTF Law Firm today! Our divorce attorneys are always happy to help you find the best legal counsel, representation, and resources you need!