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Kyle Whitaker Blog

Three Ways That Divorce Makes Filing Taxes Complicated

The IRS requires you, your estranged spouse, and your lawyers to sort out many tax-related matters when you file tax returns before and shortly after your divorce.

Texas is one of only nine states that still follow community property laws, where each spouse walks away from the marriage with 50% of the marital property. In some ways, community property laws make things simpler; in most states, the court must decide on a case-by-case basis what constitutes each spouse’s fair share. When it comes to calculating child support, each family gets a different arrangement; the formula for calculating child support is complex, but it is the same formula for every family. Unfortunately, when it comes to filing taxes, the IRS offers little in the way of specific guidance. Instead, you and your ex-spouse must decide what to do about tax refunds, claiming children as dependents, and other tax-related issues. Unsurprisingly, tax season is fertile ground for conflict among recently divorced couples and those whose divorce cases are still pending. The Fort Worth divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker can help you get through tax season with as little stress as possible if you are going through a divorce.

You Still Have to File as “Married” if Your Divorce is in Progress

The good news is that the IRS has clear rules about your filing status. If you and your spouse were still legally married to each other on December 31 of the tax year in question, you should file taxes as “married,” even if you had already filed for divorce. It is your choice whether to choose “married filing jointly” or “married filing separately.” Most couples file as “married filing separately” if they are separated and filed for divorce during the tax year.

The IRS Does Not Give You Clear Answers About Divorced Co-Parents Claiming Children as Dependents

The bad news is that, in any given year, only one household can claim the same minor child as a dependent. Even worse, neither the IRS nor the family law code specifies which parent it should be; you and your ex-spouse have to reach an agreement or fight it out over which of you gets the tax incentives related to your minor children. In some families, the child support-receiving parent claims the children as dependents, and in other families, it is the child support-paying parent.  Some families choose to alternate years of claiming the children as dependents on their tax returns.

The IRS Does Not Even Give You Clear Answers About Which Former Spouse Gets the Tax Refund

If you and your spouse are entitled to a tax refund for the tear during which you separated, the IRS also does not offer clear guidance about who gets to keep it. Usually, the spouse in a worse financial situation gets it, but sometimes the parties each take half of the refund money.

Contact the Fort Worth TX Law Office of Kyle Whitaker About Divorce and Taxes

A family law attorney can help you deal with the doubly unpleasant situations of getting divorced and filing taxes. Contact the Law Office of Kyle Whitaker in Fort Worth, Texas, to discuss your case.