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Considering taxes after divorce

Massachusetts spouses involved or interested in divorce may benefit from considering the different ways their taxes might be affected after the marriage is officially dissolved. Once parents are no longer married, there are several potential concerns that might need to be addressed before filing federal taxes.

Any parent unmarried before the last day of 2014, earning at least 50 percent of the household's income and living with their children for six months of the year, may be considered to be the head of the household. Filing under that designation may provide taxpayers with higher deductions and lower tax rates. Unmarried parents who earn less than $75,000 in adjusted gross income might be permitted to deduct $1,000 from taxes owed for each child who was under the age of 16 by the end of 2014.

In order to file taxes with the appropriate deductions and credits, unmarried parents may need to determine how the children will be claimed as dependents. Often times, these decisions are made as a part of the negotiation process and are formalized in a divorce or separation agreement. Unmarried parents are prohibited from dividing deductions provided for a single dependent, but some do agree on terms that allow them to alternate who claims the child each year. When there are multiple children, each of the unmarried parents may be permitted to claim at least one child as a dependent. However, the IRS only allows an unmarried parent to claim the dependent if they were providing financial support and had the child for at least six months out of year.

Divorcing spouses who need more information about taxes and other potential changes might benefit from enlisting legal counsel. Lawyers might be able to negotiate amicable terms for any unmarried parent who is involved in a divorce dispute. Furthermore, it may be possible for the lawyer to help a client plan for the tax implications of child care and other financial realities a parent might face after a marriage ends.

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