Tax time is just around the corner. Inevitably, newly divorced couples have questions about completing their taxes. The best suggestion any lawyer can give about taxes is to ask a tax professional. Lawyers are in the law business, not the tax business. While these two overlap often, a good CPA's opinion is preferred to a lawyers' when dealing with tax issues. So, find a good CPA! With that said, there are some common issues that come up. Even if you haven't thought of these issues, you probably should. Following is a list of common tax-divorce issues that you should consider. Filing as Head of Household. There are special benefits to filing as head of household, but you must make sure that you qualify. Alimony vs. Child Support. There is a different between alimony (called spousal maintenance in Texas) and child support. Tax forms require this information to be entered into different locations, so don't get them confused. You also need to ask what qualifies for child support – child support payments vs general items bought for the children. There is a difference. Claiming Child Care Credit. Can you claim childcare expenses? It may depend on your status. Also, different types of expenses cannot be claimed. You should also be aware that childcare expenses for children over 13 are generally non-claimable expenses. Dependant Child Tax Credits. Will you receive the dependent child tax credit? It may depend on your status. Divorce Decree Difference. The IRS has a default system in place, but often times the divorce decree will override many of the tax-based issues. Check your divorce decree to see if it addresses any tax issues. Make sure your tax professional has a copy of the final decree. You may want to allow the CPA to talk directly to your lawyer (and vice versa) if you encounter any issues. IRS Publications. The IRS knows that these issues can be tricky, so they generally publish a guide each year for divorced individuals. Since they regularly change their publications, just type "divorce" into the search box on the IRS website. Again, nothing beats the advice of a qualified tax professional. Spent the money to get a quality consultation and get it right. Nobody wants to be dealing with IRS problems several years down the road.
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