Part of going through a divorce, or being newly divorced ,is being responsible for everything in your household when you probably used to share duties, such as financial obligations. If your ex handled the bills and the taxes, this is probably a rude awakening. Even if you did it all, things are different now and you may not know some of the perks you can get, or some of the rules you need to follow.
In most states, your filing status will depend on your legal marital status on December 31st of the tax year in question. Some states recognize a legal separation, others do not. Even in the middle of a divorce, filing together can be beneficial, but you'll want to document everything prior to filing together as it can get messy. You don't want to put yourself in a position where you are liable for his tax debt, and you want any refund that is owed to you.
Retirement funds and other tax deductions, such as the interest on your mortgage, can get tricky when split by the divorce. It's imperative that you seek expert help for these types of situations. You don't want to add IRS issues to everything that's already on your plate.
Have your attorney draft a page that prohibits your ex from signing your name if that's something he typically he did before. You don't need the headache of being responsible for his tax bill if that's a possibility.
Alimony is taxable income in most cases, but only if it's documented in the divorce or separation agreement and only if you're living in separate households. Don’t get that confused with child support, which is not taxable income, nor is it tax deductible for the one paying.
One of the largest deductions is the kids. If they live with you more than six months out of the year, you get to claim credit for childcare and education expenses. You get the credits for the child, even if you allow your ex to claim the kids for the exemption. That is something you should both agree on and document.
Most single moms benefit from filing house of household (when legally permissible). This allows you to benefit from the childcare credit, educational expenses, and additional exemptions.
Your best bet is to speak to a tax professional, especially if this is the first year you're filing your taxes separately and have some of the sticky situations going on as mentioned above. If your taxes are going to be pretty straight forward and you're used to doing them yourself, it never hurts to get a second opinion. Some tax professionals will give you a free consultation just so you have a better idea of what’s going to be best for you.
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