TurboTax / Tax Calculators & Tips / All Tax Guides / Family / Video: How to File Taxes for Divorcing Couples

Video: How to File Taxes for Divorcing Couples

Updated for Tax Year 2015


OVERVIEW

If you decide to file separately until your divorce becomes final, you can only claim dependent exemptions for your children if they live with you for more than half of the tax year. Watch this video to find out more about how your divorce may affect your taxes. 


Hello, I'm Scott from TurboTax with some important information for divorcing couples.

If you are in the process of divorcing your spouse, you may be interested to learn about how your tax return will change once you are no longer eligible to file a joint return.

The IRS treats you as married if on the last day of the tax year you still don't have a final divorce decree or separation agreement. This means you can only choose between the married filing jointly and married filing separately statuses.

If you and your spouse lived apart for the last six months of the year, you may be able to file as head of household when still married. Using the head of household status may save you more in tax than the married filing separately status due to the larger standard deduction you can take and the more favorable tax brackets, but there are a number of conditions you must satisfy in order to use it and only you or your spouse (not both) may do so.

In the year your divorce becomes final, your filing options will change. At this point, you are no longer married and must choose between single and head of household. Again, only one person, you or your ex, can file as head of household.

If you decide to file separately until your divorce becomes final, you can only claim dependent exemptions for your children if they live with you for more than half of the tax year. In the event you still live with your spouse, the IRS allows the parent with the higher adjusted gross income to claim the exemptions.

Once your divorce is final and you no longer share a home with your former spouse, you generally must have custody of any child you claim as a dependent. If your former spouse has custody but agrees to let you claim the exemptions, you may do so, but only if the agreement is in writing. Use Form 8223 for this and be sure to include it with your tax return.

Another important issue to consider is your payment or receipt of alimony. The spouse who receives alimony must report it as taxable income, whereas the paying spouse can deduct it.

One last thing to consider for the tax returns you file before your divorce is final is that even though filing a joint return will likely save you more in income tax, you are responsible for all tax on the return; the IRS will not allocate the tax debt based on the earnings of each spouse. So if your spouse decides not to pay taxes,  you are liable for the amount.

Remember, when you use TurboTax to file your tax return, we’ll ask you simple questions and recommend the best filing status for you.

Get every deduction you deserve

TurboTax Deluxe searches more than 350 tax deductions and credits so you get your maximum refund, guaranteed.

For only $54.99*
Start for Free

The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


Security is built into everything we do
Here's how
* Important Offer Details and Disclosures
  • Filing Deadline: IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 18, 2016 (except for residents of Massachusetts or Maine, where the IRS filing deadline for tax year 2015 is April 19, 2016).
  • Try for Free/Pay When You File: TurboTax online and mobile pricing is based on your tax situation and varies by product. Free 1040EZ/A + Free State offer only available with TurboTax Federal Free Edition; Offer may change or end at any time without notice. Actual prices are determined at the time of print or e-file and are subject to change without notice. Savings and price comparisons based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Special discount offers may not be valid for mobile in-app purchases.
  • TurboTax CD/Download products: Price includes tax preparation and printing of federal tax returns and free federal e-file of up to 5 federal tax returns. Additional fees apply for efiling state returns. E-file fees do not apply to New York state returns. Savings and price comparison based on anticipated price increase expected 3/18/16. Prices subject to change without notice.
  • Anytime, anywhere: Internet access required; standard message and data rates apply to download and use mobile app.
  • Fastest refund possible: Fastest tax refund with efile and direct deposit; tax refund timeframes will vary.
  • Pay for TurboTax out of your federal refund: A $X.XX Refund Processing Service fee applies to this payment method. Prices are subject to change without notice. This benefit is available with TurboTax Federal products except the TurboTax Home & Business/QuickBooks Self-Employed bundle offers.
  • About our TurboTax Product Experts: Customer service and product support vary by time of year.
  • About our credentialed tax experts: Live tax advice service is available via phone for your toughest tax questions; fees may apply. Service, experience levels, hours of operation and availability vary, and are subject to restriction and change without notice. Not available for TurboTax Business customers.
  • #1 best-selling tax software: Based on aggregated sales data for all tax year 2014 TurboTax products.
  • Most Popular: TurboTax Deluxe is our most popular product among TurboTax Online users with more complex tax situations.