Doing your taxes is difficult enough. Doing your taxes after a divorce or while divorcing can be doubly challenging. The government doesn’t care that you’ve been divvying up assets and figuring out what belongs to whom – they still expect to get paid. If your Michigan divorce has put a kink in your otherwise streamlined tax filing, or made your already complicated taxes that much more of a hassle, it is still possible to simplify the inevitable.
Select the Right Filing Status
Your marital status at the end of the year determines how you will file your tax return, even if your divorce is now officially final. Get the tax details clear in your divorce settlement so there are no surprises.
If you were still married at the end of the tax year, you can choose “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” Filing jointly may make for a smaller tax burden, but if your divorce hasn’t been pleasant, especially on the money front, you may find yourself in a struggle about who’s paying the taxes or who’s getting the potential refund. If your divorce was final before the end of the tax year, you will file as “single,” even if you were married for part of the tax year.
Determine Who Gets to Claim the Children as Exemptions
A child can only be claimed on one tax return, so only the custodial parent gets to claim the dependency exemption. You will want your divorce decree to spell out who the custodial parent is to avoid a fight over who may be entitled to the child tax credit for children under age 17.
If there is at all a discrepancy about who gets to claim the exemption, and you know that you are entitled to claim your children, filing your tax return sooner rather than later will be to your benefit. Your ex will have to prove that he or she was entitled to the exemption.
Understand How Spousal Support and Child Support Factor In
Under the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, spousal support will be a non-deductible expense and child support will not need to be declared as income and will not be taxable. But this rule will only apply starting with 2018 taxes. This year, the spousal support recipient must claim these payments on their tax return as income, though child support is not reported as income. Your divorce settlement, and whether you combined alimony and child support into “family support” will make a difference in filing.
Get Financial and Legal Help for Your First Tax Filing After Divorce
Ideally, you and your ex will find common ground when it comes to taxes. The last thing you want is to find yourself in deep with Uncle Sam because you made poor financial decisions during your divorce.
Have a knowledgeable divorce attorney representing you to ensure that you will not make any tax missteps and find yourself paying more than you should or getting less than you deserve. Consult with Femminineo Attorneys, PLLC in Macomb, Michigan, to get answers about your divorce and any tax-related issues. Contact us to schedule your appointment.