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Filing Your Income Taxes When You’re Getting Divorced

Posted on in Divorce

Tax issues are confusing as it is, but when you are in the midst of a divorce, you may have various questions about how to file, what forms to file, and how to handle payments such as child support and alimony for tax purposes. Fortunately, a recent article from the Huffington Post details the most commonly asked questions about divorce and taxes.

The first question often is about your filing status – joint or single? If you are still married on December 31st, you are still married for tax purposes, even if you already have filed for divorce or are living separate from your spouse. Filing a joint tax return has many advantages, ones that a couple often should take advantage of if at all possible. However, a joint return also means joint liability for any tax debts that are owed and for the findings of any audit by the IRS.

Divorcing couples often wonder who has the ability to claim a child as a dependent on taxes, given the circumstances. Generally, the custodial parent has the right to claim the child, which is the parent with whom the child has lived for more than one-half of the year. However, if there is a court order to the contrary, i.e. that states which parent should claim which child on taxes, then you must follow the court order.

Other common tax questions that may arise in a divorce concern deducting certain expenses, such as child support, alimony, and attorney’s fees. With respect to child support, the short answer is usually no; you cannot deduct these payments. However, other expenses that you may pay for your children could be deductible in some cases, such as daycare expenses and medical expenses. Alimony, on the other hand, so long as it meets certain requirements, is deductible on your income taxes. Finally, you typically cannot deduct attorney’s fees paid in a divorce action, although you may be able to deduct other professional fees that you paid, such as fees paid to a tax planner or fees paid to divide a retirement plan in the context of your divorce.

Income tax issues when you are in the middle of a divorce can be tricky. Before you make uninformed decisions, you should take care to consult with a qualified Chicago divorce attorney for advice.

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