What to Know About Divorce and Your 2020 Tax Return – Divorce Authorized Blogs Posted by Brian E. McKinley

Tax time can be stressful and some tax years can be more complicated than others – especially when a couple is facing a divorce. This is because there are more tax issues to consider when getting divorced. There are many points to consider when preparing a tax return during or after a divorce, from your registration status to the claims made by relatives to your tax refund.

Because divorce can be complex and taxes can be complicated, we strongly encourage you to reach out to your experienced divorce attorney to assist you with any questions or issues you may encounter while filing your tax return. To help you think through the process, we’ve put together the following questions and answers about taxes during or after a divorce:

• Am I married or single?
If your divorce has not and has not yet been finalized in 2020, you will be considered married for your 2020 tax return. Joint filing can have advantages. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse want to file one last time together, please contact your spouse to inquire about the option of filing a joint tax return. If your divorce was deemed final as of December 31, 2020, the IRS would find you single. You can also qualify as head of household if you take care of underage children for more than fifty percent of overnight stays.

• Is there a reason why joint submission may not be the best option?
If you file a joint tax return, you are liable for all taxes due. This means that if your soon-to-be ex-spouse earns more than you and has not paid tax on that amount, the IRS could reach out to you to collect the taxes due. If you are not concerned about this issue, joint filing might be a good option for you. We encourage you to discuss what is best with your lawyer.

• What does it mean to be “head of the household” if we’re still married but separated?
According to the IRS, if you are separated from your spouse and pass certain tests, you may be able to be enrolled as a head of household even if you are not divorced or legally separated. If you qualify for filing as a head of household rather than separately filing as a married person, your standard deduction will be higher. Also, your overall taxes may be lower and you may be able to apply for Earned Income Credit.

CONNECTED: Read more about understanding taxes during your divorce:

• What deductions should I consider due to a divorce?
Divorce costs – Due to the Tax Reduction and Jobs Act 2017, you cannot deduct the costs associated with a divorce.
Child benefit and maintenance – Neither is taxable for the recipient nor tax deductible for the payer.
Eligible – If there are children involved and you want to find out who can claim them as dependents, usually the parent with the greater number of nights can claim the children as dependents. However, make sure this is clear as you work out the details of your divorce.

It is important to discuss tax issues with your experienced divorce attorney and to ensure that the person preparing your tax return is aware of your marital status and your plans and / or desires.

While there is a lot to consider when filing your taxes after a divorce, it is comforting to know that there are lawyers with the right experience to help you every step of the way. To learn more about what Wilder Mahood McKinley & Oglesby can do to resolve your tax issues, contact us online at or call our Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania office at 412-261 -4040 on.


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