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How to prepare your first post-divorce tax filing

With just a few days left to go until the income tax filing deadline, many Erie County residents are likely scrambling to complete their taxes on time. For those New Yorkers who divorced in 2013, there may have been many reasons to delay filing until the last minute, not the least of which is the general confusion that a change in marital status can bring.

If you are in that camp, we hope to shed some light on a few common post-divorce tax issues.

The first thing you will want to determine is your tax filing status. This is determined by your marital status as of December 31, 2013, so if your divorce is final then, you will file as a single taxpayer. You can usually still file jointly, though, and depending on your situation, it may make good financial sense to do so. This can allow one person to file as head of household, which often results in a lower tax bill. In order to qualify for this, you will have had to live apart from your spouse for the previous six months and paid more than half of the household costs.

Another common question relates to child support and alimony, or spousal support. Specifically, is either deductible? The answer to this is yes for alimony and no for child support. The spouse that pays alimony can deduct it, while the recipient has to count it as income. Child support has no tax consequences.

Finally, many spouses are unaware of how a property division can affect their taxes. One of the potential benefits here is the deduction of mortgage interest. If you and your spouse no longer own your home together, the new sole homeowner can take the full deduction.

Tax filing is a tricky process, to be sure. As such, it may be a good idea to contact an experienced family law or tax professional to get advice on your unique situation.

Source: Inforum, “Your Money: What’s even worse than a divorce? For some, it’s the taxes,” Lauren Young, April 10, 2014

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