Taxes don't go away because of divorce, unfortunately. And while neither divorce nor taxes are exactly fun to talk about, there are some important considerations that you should be aware of if you are in the middle of divorce proceedings.
We've answered three of the more common questions regarding filing for taxes when divorcing below. These answers are not meant to be advice for your specific situation; it is important to consult with your divorce lawyer and any tax preparer prior to filing your taxes.
- Filing status. You are married in the eyes of the IRS until the divorce is final. That means even if you have already filed for divorce and been living apart for months, you must still file as either married filing jointly or married filing separately. Once the divorce is final, you will be single for that tax year. Put another way, your official marriage status on December 31 is the way you should file for that year. If you are currently divorcing and choose married filing separately, you must still file under your married name unless you have already legally changed your name.
- Alimony. The recent tax law affected alimony. For 2017, alimony payments are still deductible. It is also possible to deduct court-ordered interim alimony payments. However, supporting your spouse through divorce proceedings is not deductible, unless it is officially labeled as interim alimony.
- Child exemptions and dependents. If you are filing as married filing jointly, you and your spouse will share the exemptions (and the tax return). Your return (or taxes owed) will be a part of the divorce settlement. If you decide to file as married filing separately, you will have to negotiate with your spouse as to who gets the deductions. Both parents cannot claim a child as dependent, for example.
- Late payments and penalties. Both spouses are responsible for tax debt and any penalties for late payments if they file jointly, regardless of where the income came from or who took responsibility for filing the taxes. Spouses who filed as married filing separately are not responsible for the other's tax obligations.
If you have any questions regarding taxes while going through a divorce, contact the law firm of Winegar, Wilhelm, Glynn & Roemersma at 908-454-3200 or visit our website WWGRLAW.com for more information.