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Filing Taxes After the Divorce is Final

Now that the leaves are changing and the holidays are drawing closer, we're reminded that after the New Year's celebrations are over, soon it's going to be time to file our taxes.

If you're in the middle of a divorce and you think it will be final before the end of the year, you're probably wondering how the divorce will impact your filing status and your deductions.

Once your divorce is official your taxes will be handled differently, beginning with your filing status.

If you are divorced by Dec. 31, then the IRS considers that you were unmarried for the whole year. So, if you're divorced by Dec. 31, 2015, for tax purposes, you were unmarried for 2015.

Once you are divorced, you have two possible filing statuses: 1) single, or 2) head of household. Since the single filing status is self-explanatory, we're going to focus on filing as the "head of household."

In order for you to qualify as the head of household, you must be unwed on Dec. 31, you must have paid more than half of the costs of keeping up the home for that same year, and a qualifying person must have lived in your home for over six months.

If you're considering your options, we'll tell you right now that the head of household status is more appealing. That's because there are broader tax brackets than there are for single individuals. In effect, it's worth your time and effort to see if you can file this way.

Can we both deduct our children on our taxes? Unfortunately, only one of you are entitled to the dependency exemption for each of the children. Usually, it's the custodial parent who gets these exemptions, but there are exceptions.

If you're the custodial parent and you want your ex to claim the kids on their taxes in a given tax year, all you have to do is sign a release on IRS form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent. In that case, your former spouse would simply attach that form to their tax return.

What about the expenses relating to our home? As for the house, this is usually governed by the terms of the divorce settlement or judgement, and it also has to do with the form of property ownership.

Sometimes after a divorce is final, the couple keeps the house in some form of joint ownership between them. In this situation, both parties are entitled to half of the deduction for the taxes and interests.

However, this is rare. What usually happens is the home is transferred to one of the parties, which means that only one of the parties is entitled to the deductions.

To learn more about divorce and taxes, contact DeLorenzo, Grasso & Dalmata today!