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Federal Income Tax and Divorce: Frequently Asked Questions

If you are going through a divorce, taxes may be one of the last things on your mind.  Of course, Tax Day is on its way, and many federal income tax issues can derail your financial situation and intensify your stress and the complications of your divorce proceeding down the line.  Do you have some questions about federal income tax and how it may affect your recent or upcoming divorce?  Look below to see if your question has been answered:

Now that we share custody, how do dependency tax exemptions work?

While ex-spouses cannot each claim the dependency exemption (the exemption generally goes to the custodial parent), some arrangements can be made if ex-spouses wish to share the benefits or organize them differently.  Ex-spouses can alternate years receiving the exemption if they wish, and the noncustodial parent can receive the exemption if the custodial parent consents.

So do I file singly now?

The answer to this question depends where you are in the process.  If you are not yet legally divorced (i.e., the process has not been completed), you cannot file singly.  If that is the case, you can file as married, or you and your ex-spouse can file with the status of “married filing separately”.

Do I now qualify as the head of household?

Of course, the answer to this question again depends on your individual situation.  As a general rule, you do not qualify as the head of household unless you have lived apart for the last six months (of the taxable year, that is) and you are considered legally unmarried.  To be sure about your filing status, consult an expert.

Can I file as a head of household if my spouse gets the dependent child tax credit?

Yes, filing as head of household is not related to receiving the dependency tax credit.  You will have to meet all of the requirements for head of household, however, including being considered legally unmarried by IRS standards.

Are alimony payments tax-deductible?  What about child support payments?

Alimony payments can be, however, the IRS has strict requirements for deducting alimony payments from your taxes.  Child support payments are never tax-deductible, so be sure that the line you draw between alimony payments and child support payments is clear (for instance, never link the two).

What happens to my tax returns if I cannot pay my child support as ordered?

Your tax refunds could be garnished to repay the child support owed.  Failing to pay child support has many consequences, including for your taxes.  If you cannot pay your child support as ordered, seek a modification to the order as quickly as possible, and if your ex-spouse is not complying with your child support order, seek enforcement.

I have some questions about my divorce.  Where should I go?

If you have questions or concerns about your divorce process, you should reach out as soon as possible to an expert.  At Schwartz | White, qualified Boca Raton family lawyers are prepared to assist you, and can advise or direct you with regards to tax issues, child support, alimony or spousal support, and other elements that may arise.  Do not go it alone; call 561-391-9943 today for a consultation.

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