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How divorce impacts your tax filing

Texas residents who divorced or were in the process of getting a divorce during 2012 may have many questions about how that life change will impact their annual tax filing this April 15. Divorce may impact things like filing status, dependents, and deductions. Here are some general guidelines for preparing your taxes following divorce.

Although we are well into 2013, do not forget the relevant tax year is 2012. It is your marital status in 2012, in particular, your status on December 31, that determines your tax filing status now. If you were still married as of that date, you must file as married even if your divorce subsequently became final. You have two choices: married filing jointly or married filing single. Your attorney or tax advisor can help you determine which option is best for you.

If you were divorced by December 31, you again have two choices. Single is the most obvious option. You also may file as head of household if you meet certain criteria. Consult with a professional if you have questions about whether this option applies to you or would provide a tax advantage.

If you are a non-custodial parent paying child support, you may wonder if you can deduct the monthly support payments or at least continue to claim your child as a dependent. This answer to both of these questions may be no. The IRS does not view child support as a tax deduction but as a financial obligation to one's child. As far as claiming dependents, the general IRS rule is that the custodial parent may claim the dependent unless the parties have a formal agreement that says otherwise. This agreement may be included as part of the divorce settlement.

Source: Huffington Post, "Preparing Your Taxes In The Year Of Divorce," Kathleen B. Connell, March 21, 2013

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