Tax changes that newly-divorced people need to know about

As Tax Day approaches, there are a number of changes that you'll need to be aware of if your divorce was finalized last year. If you're contemplating or in the midst of a divorce, these changes are important to be aware of for the tax year that your divorce becomes final.

Even if you've relied on an online tax preparation program in the past, it's always best to consult a tax professional when you've undergone any major life change -- which divorce surely is. If your spouse was the one who did the taxes, it's essential that you take control of your taxes once you're on your own. It's also best that you no longer share a tax preparer.

So what are the primary changes that you need to be aware of as a newly-divorced person filing a tax return?

-- If your divorce was final by Dec. 31, you'll either need to file as single or head of household. You can file as head of household if any of your home was the primary residence for at least one child for over 50 percent of the year.

-- Generally, the parent with primary custody of a child can claim him or her as a dependent. This is something that should be worked out in your divorce agreement, as the deduction can be significant. Sometimes parents each claim one child or alternate years where they claim them. It's best if it's sorted out and codified during your divorce.

-- If you and your ex-spouse are still sharing the mortgage and real estate taxes on your home, that will impact your deductions for these things. You can take a deduction on the percentage that you're paying.

-- Alimony is considered income for the person receiving it. If you're getting alimony, that is considered income. You may want to consider paying some quarterly taxes during the year to prevent a large tax bill in April.

Some tax changes that newly-divorced people need to make must be coordinated with their ex, such as alimony paid and alimony received, as well as the dependency and homeowners' deductions we've discussed here. The more of these that you can have included in your divorce agreement, the less chance there will be of incorrect reporting to the Internal Revenue Service.

Source: WTOP, "5 things women should know about taxes after a divorce," Dawn Doebler, March 22, 2017

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