If you’re preparing to get divorced, then you’ve likely already started thinking about factors such as property division. You might not have spent a lot of time thinking about how your divorce impacts your tax obligations though.
Your ability to file a joint tax return with your spouse ends the same year that you finalize your divorce. It doesn’t matter whether you settled your case on Jan. 1 or on Dec. 31, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will consider you as divorced for the entirety of the year when you go to file your return.
If you’ve been filing as married filing jointly for some time, then you’ve probably received some tax breaks for having done so. Once your divorce is finalized, you’ll need to file as head of household (HOH) or single as instead.
It’s ideal if you can claim HOH as opposed to single status. One advantage of filing as the former is that it may allow you to qualify for some tax credits. You have to meet certain criteria to file as HOH though. Only your or your ex can file taxes as HOH if you have one child.
You will need to have a dependent parent or child that you supported who lived with you for at least six months during that same year to qualify to file as HOH. You need to be able to document that you paid at least half the cost for the upkeep of your home during that timeframe to qualify to be HOH as well.
The primary custodial parent is generally the only one who can qualify for HOH status. It’s possible for moms and dads who share joint custody to both be classified as this though. The IRS generally will allow a parent with the higher adjusted gross income to qualify as HOH.
Being designated as HOH can be a great tax-saver. Individuals with this status were able to qualify for various tax credits including the earned income, child and dependent care and American opportunity credits in 2018. The latter covers certain educational expenses. HOH designees were also able to qualify for a $2,000 child tax credit that year.
You should consult with a property division attorney as you’re preparing to get divorced. Your lawyer can help you negotiate a settlement in Fort Myers case that may reduce your tax burden given your new tax Florida filing status.