Tips for Filing Taxes After Your Divorce
Unless you’re a certified tax professional, chances are filing taxes is almost always intimidating, no matter if you’re married, single, divorced, or widowed. Filing taxes for the first time after a Long Island divorce can be particularly challenging for newly single individuals, especially with the new tax reform laws in 2019 that changed how child support and alimony were taxed.
It’s critical that you have a good knowledge base of how your divorce will affect how you file taxes now and in the future, as well as how you can best protect your finances. Here are some top tips for filing taxes after your Long Island divorce and how to get help navigating difficult family legal issues.
Know What Your Tax Filing Status Is
It’s important that you understand which tax filing status you will use. If you are still in the middle of your divorce and a judge has not issued a final divorce decree, you can still file married or married filing separately, depending on if your soon-to-be-ex-spouse is agreeable and if it will be a better move for you and/or your ex financially.
If you were legally divorced by 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, you will file separately from your ex-spouse, even if you were still married to them for part of that year. Filing your taxes as the head of household may be an option if you have children and are the custodial parent.
If You Have Children, Decide Who Will Claim Them as Dependents on Your Taxes
Your divorce agreement may specify which parent gets to claim the children as dependents during each tax year. If one parent is the primary custodian, they may be allowed to claim the children every tax year. If both parents share roughly equal time with the children, the divorce decree may allow one parent to claim the children as dependents one year and the other parent the following year.
If your divorce decree doesn’t specify who gets to claim the children as dependents, you’ll need to decide between you and your ex-spouse each year how you wish to file. An attorney can help you negotiate if you and your ex aren’t amenable to negotiating the matter.
Alimony Income Tax Changes
How alimony or spousal support is filed is important to understand, especially if you’re filing taxes for the first time since you’ve been divorced and were ordered to pay spousal support. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2019 changed the way alimony is filed for both the payor and the recipient.
Prior to this, alimony was deductible by the payor and reported as income by the recipient, putting the tax burden on the recipient. Divorces before January 1, 2019, are grandfathered into the old laws, whereas divorces that were finalized in 2019 are subject to the reformed laws.
Now, the alimony payor can no longer deduct the alimony that they paid as an expense. The recipient is no longer required to report alimony as income, shifting the tax burden of the support onto the payor and tilting the scale heavily in favor of the support recipient.
Child Support Income Tax Changes
With regard to tax filing, alimony is now treated the way child support always was. If you pay child support, it’s also not tax-deductible and you may not claim it as an expense. If you receive child support, you do not have to report it as income.
However, if you chose to bundle what you owed in child support and alimony into what was called “family support” prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, both child support and alimony are deductible by the payor and taxable by the recipient.
Contact an Experienced Divorce Lawyer to Learn Your Rights Regarding Taxes & Your Divorce
Understanding how you should file your Long Island taxes after you’ve divorced is often overwhelming. At Hornberger, Verbitsky, P.C., we can help you learn more about your rights with regard to paying taxes after dissolving your marriage and provide you with the support you need as you navigate the legal challenges of separating from your spouse and creating a timesharing schedule for your children.
Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation to discuss your family’s legal needs at 631-923-1910.
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