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Filing your taxes after divorce can be complicated

On Behalf of | Jan 31, 2020 | Divorce |

As January ends, many people receive their W-2s and other tax forms. It is the first sign of tax season.

Tax season itself can be stressful, but especially so after getting a divorce. Even thinking about filing taxes after divorce can leave individuals facing many questions.

Here are some of the most common questions spouses in Connecticut have about filing their taxes after their divorce.

Do you file taxes separately?

Many people assume that they file taxes separately once they divorce, but the situation can be a bit confusing. There are several rules spouses must consider, and the filing status regulation is only one of them.

How spouses file their taxes generally depends on when they finalize their divorce. For example:

  • Spouses file separately if they finalize their divorce on or before December 31 of the tax-filing year;
  • However, spouses may file jointly if they do not finalize their divorce on or before that same date. Even if they are separated and not living together, they often must still file jointly.

Can you file as head of household?

This is another odd situation that divorced spouses might come across when filing their taxes. Many people think that now that they are single and adjusting to the life of a single parent, they are the head of their household.

That might be true in their eyes, but it is not necessarily true in the eyes of the IRS. Only one parent can qualify to file as the head of household after a divorce, even if both parents live in separate households. This is because individuals must meet a few criteria to be head of household, including:

  1. They file as unmarried: Individuals must file separately after their divorce to be able to file as the head of household.
  2. They maintain the household: This means that an individual paid for more than half of the expenses required to support the household. These expenses include the mortgage, home repairs, electric bills and even groceries.
  3. They have a qualified dependent: This is the primary reason only one parent can file as the head of the household. After a divorce, parents cannot both claim their children as dependents each year. This might depend on who the custodial parent is, or whether parents wish to switch off claiming children as dependents each year.

Filing taxes after divorce is often more complicated than many people think. That is why it is helpful for individuals to consult an experienced divorce attorney to protect their finances post-divorce.