Who Claims the Kids? (And Other Post-Divorce Tax Questions)
It is normal for people to have a lot of questions related to filing their taxes. However, if an individual is going through a divorce, taxes can become a little more difficult to understand. That is where our family lawyers at the Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter come in, as we have the experience and knowledge to help you navigate your tax return after becoming newly divorced.
Who is allowed to claim the kids on their taxes?
One of the most frequently asked questions we see is who is allowed to claim the kids on their taxes. As you may know, only one person can claim a child on their taxes in the United States. The IRS makes it clear that the custodial parent is typically the individual who claims the child on their taxes. However, there is a special rule stating that the custodial parent is allowed to give written permission to the noncustodial parent to claim the child as a dependent for the child tax credit or credit for dependency exemption.
A custodial parent is the parent who has physical custody of the minor child as stated by a court order. This means that the custodial parent cares for the child all or most of the time.
If divorced parents have joint custody, a judge may state that they can alternate claiming the child as a dependent. This is only allowed if the child meets the residency requirements, meaning that they live with the taxpayer for at least six months of the year.
Should there be an agreement on who is claiming the child?
If the divorced parents share joint custody, there absolutely should be an agreement on who is claiming the child. The reason that we suggest having a written agreement in place is because there is a deadline for filing taxes, and you do not want to pass this deadline by fighting over who is claiming the child. If you run out of time, you will be required to pay a late fee. Therefore, it is always best to have a written agreement that clearly states who will claim the child to alleviate these issues.
What if one parent does not follow the written agreement on claiming the child?
If a parent does not follow the written agreement on claiming the child, you should speak to a Knoxville family lawyer as soon as possible. Some people think that reaching out to the IRS will resolve this issue. However, the IRS does not deal with family legal matters. This can turn into your taxes being delayed or filed incorrectly, which will cost you money.
What is my filing status?
Another important part of filing taxes is determining your filing status. Most married couples will file jointly , but a divorce changes this. Therefore, if you are divorced on or before December 31 of last year, you must file as single. If your divorce was not finalized by December 31 of last year, you may choose to file as single or jointly.
If you have children, filing as head of household may be an option for you. However, the IRS states that you must meet certain requirements to do so, which include:
- Your spouse did not live in your home for the last six months of the year
- You paid more than half of the costs to keep up your home last year
- Your children lived in your home for more than half of the year
Can I claim child support on my taxes?
Unfortunately, child support payments are not taxable income, which means they are not tax-deductible. However, you may be able to claim your child as a dependent if you are the custodial parent or if you have permission in the divorce agreement.
Can I claim a tax deduction for divorce costs?
We know that legal fees and court costs can be expensive when it comes to divorce. However, you cannot claim a deduction for these costs on your taxes. It is very important that you do not try to do this, or you will need to file an amendment. While an amendment allows you to fix any mistakes on your tax return, it can lead to unnecessary troubles and may delay your refund.
Can I claim alimony on my taxes?
If you are currently paying or receiving alimony, you may be wondering if you can claim this on your tax return. You may have also heard your friends who are divorced talking about claiming alimony before, but the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 made big changes to this a few years ago. The new tax code section states that any alimony paid after December 31, 2018, cannot be considered taxable income. Therefore, you cannot claim alimony on your taxes anymore.
How do I know when to seek help from a Knoxville divorce attorney?
After being divorced, you may decide to do your taxes for the first time on your own. However, if you start having any issues with the IRS or need to address a few questions or concerns regarding your divorce or children, it may be time to seek help from a Knoxville family attorney.
They will not only help you understand how to file your taxes correctly and on time, but they may be able to take some of the stress and frustrations of doing this off your shoulders. Make sure that you do not put this off as there is a tax filing deadline approaching, which you do not want to miss.
If you are in the middle of doing your taxes and wondering if you need assistance, there is a good chance that you could benefit from speaking with an attorney. Our team at the Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter helps clients with their divorce-related tax concerns, and we will be glad to help you as well. Call our Knoxville office, or submit our contact form at your earliest convenience.