April is normally the end of tax season, though the U.S. has extended the deadline to July 15 for this year. Still, it is good to get a headstart on filing your federal income taxes if you are dealing with new circumstances, such as your recent divorce. Depending on when your divorce was completed, you may have a decision to make about your tax-filing status. If possible, filing a joint tax return with your former spouse will qualify you for a greater standard deductible and other deductibles and credits. However, you may be forced to file a separate tax return.
If Your Divorce Was Completed by Dec. 31
If you finalized your divorce during the 2019 tax year, then you are considered divorced for the entire year and must file separately. The standard deductible for filing as a single adult is half the amount of what you would receive if you filed a joint tax return. You can receive a higher deductible if you file as the head of the household. In order to qualify, you must:
- Be considered unmarried for the tax year
- Have paid more than 50 percent of your household expenses
- Have lived with a dependent for more than half the year
Because of these requirements, the divorcee with a majority of the parenting time is usually the only one who can file as the head of the household. You could both file as the head of the household if each of you has the majority of the parenting time for one child.
If Your Divorce Is Ongoing or Was Completed After the New Year
Even if you filed for divorce in 2019, you are still considered legally married for tax purposes if you did not finalize your divorce before the end of the year. Married couples can file jointly or as married filing separately. Filing separately from your spouse will give you the same standard deductible as if you were filing as a single person. However, some divorcees still choose to file separately because:
- They cannot agree with their former spouse on filing jointly
- They will be in a lower tax bracket if they file separately
- They want to separate their finances from their former spouse as soon as possible
You may qualify to file as head of the household if you and your spouse lived separately for more than half the year and you meet all of the other requirements.
Contact a Kane County Divorce Attorney
If you are planning to divorce, it is important to consider how a change to your tax-filing status could affect your budget. A St. Charles, Illinois, divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can explain all of the tax implications of your divorce. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.