Filing Requirements/Status/Dependents/Exemptions: Filing Status

My wife and I have been separated since May. She has one child (grandchild) living with her. Can we both file as single?

You and your wife may file either a joint return or separate returns. If you and your wife file separate returns, your filing status would be married filing separately. Your wife may qualify for head of household status.

If I moved out of my house on July 1, but was not divorced at the end of the year, can I file as head of household and take the Earned Income Credit if I have a minor child? Can I also claim child care expenses?

You do not qualify for the head of household filing status because you and your spouse have not lived apart for the last 6 months of the taxable year and are not considered unmarried. Your filing status for the year will either be married filing separately or married filing jointly. If it is married filing separately, you will not qualify for the Earned Income Credit and cannot claim a credit based on child care expenses. If you file a joint return with your spouse, you may be eligible to claim these credits.

I am divorced and pay child support. My children live with their mother and she claims them on her tax returns. Can I claim head of household?

No, your children do not qualify you for the head of household filing status.

I am divorced with one dependent child. This year my ex-spouse will claim the child as an exemption. Does this mean I cannot qualify as head of household?

You can file as head of household even though you do not claim your unmarried dependent child as an exemption if you meet all of the following requirements: # You are unmarried or considered unmarried on the last day of the year. # You paid more than half the cost of keeping up a home for the year. # A qualifying person must live with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences such as school).

Filing Requirements/Status/Dependents/Exemptions: Dependents & Exemptions

How do you claim a child if you agree with your ex-spouse to claim him 6 months and he claims him the other 6 months of the year?

The dependency exemption cannot be split. Generally , the custodial parent is treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support. This parent is usually allowed to claim the exemption for the child if the other exemption tests are met. However, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support if certain conditions are met.

The custodial parent signs a Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or a substantially similar statement, and provides it to the noncustodial parent who attaches it to his or her return. Please beware that if the custodial parent releases the exemption, the custodial parent may not claim the Child Tax Credit.

My 7-year-old son lived in my household for seven months of the year, and I provided all of his support. I paid child support to his other parent for the other five months. Can I claim my son as a dependent and for a child tax credit without Form 8332?

Generally, the custodial parent is treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support. This parent is usually allowed to claim the exemption for the child if the other dependency tests are met. However, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support if the custodial parent releases the exemption by signing a Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or a substantially similar statement.

What is the tax form number for the custodial parent to sign that allows the noncustodial parent to use the child as a dependent?

The custodial parent should use Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or a substantially similar statement, to release the exemption to the noncustodial parent. The noncustodial parent must attach the form or statement to his or her tax return. Please be aware that if the custodial parent releases the exemption for a child, the custodial parent may not claim a Child Tax Credit for that child.

I have a court order that says I have the tax exemption for my minor child until further order of the court. Can I just send a copy of the court order with my prepared taxes, or do I have to have a waiver signed by the other parent?

You must obtain a signed Form 8332, Release of Claim to Exemption for Child of Divorced or Separated Parents, or a substantially similar statement.

Can a court order determine who takes a child for a deduction? Does the court order supersede the IRS requirements?

Federal law determines who may claim a dependency exemption.

Itemized Deductions/Standard Deductions: Interest, Investment, Money Transactions (Alimony, Bad Debts, Applicable Federal Interest Rate, Gambling, Legal Fees, Loans, etc.)

I went through a divorce last year and paid a lot of legal fees. Are these deductible on my tax return?

Legal fees incurred or paid for a divorce are personal in nature, and are not generally deductible. However, legal fees incurred or paid for the production or collection of taxable income may be deductible. You may deduct legal fees for collecting alimony because alimony is taxable income. These deductions are taken on line 22 of Form 1040, Schedule A, Itemized Deductions.

Can I deduct alimony paid to my former spouse?

If you are divorced or separated, you may be able to deduct the alimony or separate maintenance payments that you are required to make to your spouse or former spouse, or on behalf of that spouse.

Itemized Deductions/Standard Deductions: Other Deduction Questions

My spouse and I are filing separate returns. How can we split our itemized deductions?

If you and your spouse file separate returns and one of you itemizes deductions, the other spouse will have a standard deduction of zero. Therefore, the other spouse should also itemize deductions.

You may be able to claim itemized deductions on a separate return for certain expenses that you paid separately or jointly with your spouse. Deductible expenses that are paid out of separate funds, such as medical expenses, are deductible by the spouse who pays them. If these expenses are paid from community funds, the deduction may depend on whether or not you live in a community property state. The community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In a community property state, the deduction is, generally, divided equally between you and your spouse.

SOURCE: DivorceNet