After all of the media coverage surrounding the new tax laws last year, you probably heard that if you suspect you will either pay or receive alimony, you should finalize your divorce before Dec. 31, 2018. Whether you managed to reach an agreement out of court or let the court resolve your divorce issues, you were single on Jan. 1.
Now, as tax season begins, you may wonder why you stressed about making sure that your divorce was final before the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve. Even if you leave the courthouse on Dec. 31 divorced, the IRS considers you single for the entire tax year.
First, let's address the alimony issue
The urgency in completing your divorce by Dec. 31, 2018 mostly centered on alimony. The advantage lies in the fact that you may still deduct your alimony payments on your income taxes. If your divorce had not been done by that date, you would no longer be able to enjoy that deduction. Child support payments, if you pay them, have never been tax deductible, so nothing changed there.
Second, let's look at other changes in your taxes
Outside of the alimony deduction issue, other changes in your taxes include the following:
- If you claim the children on your income taxes, you may receive the dependent child tax credit of up to $2,000 per child. However, each child must have lived with you at least six months last year and be under the age of 17 for you to qualify for this and other tax breaks related to children.
- Your tax status changes as well. You may be able to file as head of household, or you could just file as single depending on your circumstances.
As is the case during any tax season, you want to make sure that you file under the correct status and receive all of the deductions, credits and other advantages that you can legally take. These may not be the only changes that affect you now that you are divorced. If you thought the tax code was complex before, the changes made by the new tax laws are significant.
If during no other year you chose to seek out experienced legal support for your tax preparation, this might be the year to do it. Considering that the IRS may still experience personnel cutbacks if the government shuts down again during this critical time of year, getting competent and correct answers to your questions will probably benefit from some help.