Getting married or divorced is a major life event, and can raise questions when it’s time to do your taxes. Do I have to change my last name? How do I file now? When does my marriage or divorce count?
It’s fairly simple, once you know the IRS rules.
To begin with, if you get married any time within the year, the IRS considers you married for the entire year (provided of course that you’re not already divorced by the end of the year). That means you can file a married return.
There are two married filing statuses:
Important: If you’re filing jointly in a community property state, both spouses are responsible for income, taxes, penalties, debts, and other financial matters.
This also applies when married filing separately: Both spouses are responsible, even if one spouse earned all the income. Even if a divorce decree states that your spouse is responsible for any monies owed, you may still be liable for the amount as well.
The community property states are:
If you get a divorce or become legally separated, you can file as single for the year. If you have any qualifying dependents, you can file as head of household,which is desirable, as it lowers your taxes more than the single filing status.
It’s a common belief that if you’re running a household of one – yourself – you can file as head of household. Unfortunately, this is not the case: You have to have at least one dependent. (If your parent is your dependent, see Claiming a Parent as a Dependent.)
If you pay alimony to a former spouse, you can deduct the amount you paid for the year. See Alimony and Child Support.
If you changed your name when you got married or divorced, you should notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) of the change before you file your taxes. The IRS matches your return to records it gets from the SSA, and if they don’t match, it will reject your return. Alternatively, you can just file your return with your old name.
We believe everyone should have a quick, easy, and straightforward tax-filing experience, which is why we’ve designed our walkthrough to be as simple as possible. Contact us today to file your taxes with Tax Office & Associates™!