What does your divorce mean for your upcoming tax return?

When you were making the decision to end your marriage, taxes were probably far from your mind. Whether you are in the process of getting divorced, just thinking about it, or are recently divorced you should consult with your tax professional to determine your rights and obligations.

Here are some answers to basic questions you may have about your divorce and your tax bill.

When does the IRS consider you divorced?

December 31 of the tax year is the important date to the IRS. If your divorce is final on that date, the IRS considers you divorced. If not, your marriage is ongoing. This is true even if you filed for divorce well before December 31. By contrast, if a judge issues your final divorce decree on December 31, the IRS considers you unmarried for the full tax year.

Can you file a joint return?

Filing a joint return may be advisable as married couples typically are eligible for valuable tax breaks. Provided your divorce is not final by December 31, you have the option of filing a joint tax return. You can even file a joint return if you no longer live with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Is there a risk to filing a joint return?

If you are not on good terms with your husband or wife in the leadup to your divorce, it may not be wise to file a joint return. You should discuss the pros and cons of filing together with your tax professional.

The above is not meant to provide legal or tax advice as to the manner in which you file your taxes, but instead is meant to prompt thought and questions which should be discussed further with your tax professional.