1. Decide if you and your spouse are filing jointly or separately.
If your divorce is actively pending in court, then the court will generally want you to file in the manner that is the most mutually beneficial overall. Any refund or amount owed is equally divided.
2. Ensure that your final Divorce Decree includes a provision that addresses the possibility for future tax issues related to filings in prior tax years.
Meaning, if you are subsequently found to owe money on a prior joint tax filing, how will that debt be split? If your ex-spouse is the cause of the tax issue, you will want to ensure that the provision saddles them with the liability.
3. Make sure split refunds make their way into the correct accounts.
Chances are, once you decided to divorce, you got a checking account that’s all your own. If you are filing jointly and are getting a refund, you can request that the refund be split equally into two separate accounts.
4. Update your W4 form with your employer.
Once you are divorced or know that you will be divorced prior to the end of the tax year, then it would behoove you to notify your employer to change your withholding status as soon as possible to avoid owing additional taxes upon filing your return.
5. Understand when you can be considered as the head of household.
If a child resides with you more than half of the year, then you can claim head of household. Additionally, you must have paid for more than 50 percent of the bills with your own earnings, savings, or capital.
In order to be considered the head of household prior to your divorce being final, you must be “considered unmarried” as of the last day of the tax year. The IRS defines you as “unmarried” if:
- You file a separate return
- You paid more than half of the cost of keeping up your home for the tax year
- Your spouse did not live in the home during the last 6 months of the tax year
- Your home was the main home for your child, stepchild, or foster child for at least 6 months of the tax year
- You must be able to claim the child as a dependent
There are many tax issues and financial considerations to be aware of during a divorce. Make sure you take the time to understand these issues. It is recommended that you consult with an accountant to determine which method of filing is best for you and your family. If you have questions regarding the divorce process, contact us to help you navigate the process.