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Divorce and taxes

With tax deadlines only a month away, it is time to think about how your divorce affects your taxes. Below are some of the frequent questions that individuals going through a Minnesota divorce or those recently divorced have during tax season.

Do I file as a married or single person?

The answer to this question depends entirely on when you were divorced, and the key date is December 31st. If you were still married on or before December 31, 2011, you are considered married for tax purposes. On the flip side, if you were divorced at the end of 2011, you will be considered single for all of 2011.

Can I file as head of household?

There are specific requirements that someone must meet to file as head of household, including:

  • You must have been unmarried on December 31, 2011, or you must be considered unmarried for tax purposes, which means, among other things, that you and your spouse must have lived apart for the last six months of 2011.
  • You must have paid more than half of your house's upkeep cost in the last year.
  • A qualifying dependent must have lived in your house for more than half of 2011 unless he or she is your dependent parent.

Are alimony and child support deductible?

Alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) is deductible by the person paying alimony. Similarly, alimony is considered taxable income for the person receiving alimony.

Child support is not deductible and is not included as income for the person receiving it.

Who can claim the child exemption?

Only one parent can claim the child as a dependent. The custodial parent, or the parent with whom the child resides, can claim the child as a dependent. If the noncustodial parent wishes to claim the child as a dependent, he or she must have the consent of the custodial parent. Furthermore, the custodial parent must fill out and file a separate form to allow this to happen.

Source: H&R Block, "Tax Tips and Calculators," 2012.

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