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Tax tips for the recently divorced

If you have been through a divorce in the last year, you have likely realized that the finalization of your divorce did not mean the end of your contact with your spouse. There are many additional steps to take, especially as you are separating your finances in the wake of your divorce. This also means that you will likely have to include or consult your former spouse when you are preparing your first post-divorce federal income tax return.

One of the most common questions tax professionals hear from recently divorced couples is whether they should file their taxes together or as separately. Under the federal tax code, you must file your taxes according to your marital status at the end of the previous year. This means that, if you were still married to your spouse on December 31, 2011, you must file your taxes as if you were married.

However, if you have any concerns that your spouse is not being truthful about his or her income or is attempting to file a fraudulent tax return, you may want to select “married filing separately.” This will protect you in the event that your spouse is audited or prosecuted.

Children are also the subject of many common questions from recently-divorced couples. In general, the parent who has primary physical custody claims the child as a dependent. However, the court order or divorce agreement may say something different, so consult that document when determining how to file.

Also, child support has no effect on taxes: the parent who receives the support should not claim it as income, and the parent who pays it may not deduct it from their income. The opposite is true for spousal support, which is deductible from the gross income of the payor and included in the income of the recipient.

If you have any questions about your tax situation after a divorce, you may want to consider contacting an experienced Las Vegas family law attorney or tax professional.

Source: Huffington Post, “Top 4 Tax Tips For Divorcing Couples,” Bari Zell Weinberger, Feb. 24, 2012

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