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Personal Finance

We are dedicated to keeping clients abreast of the latest developments and tax-saving strategies. This section includes a library of hundreds of timely articles about business, taxes, finances, trends and the like. The articles are categorized by subject matter, which can be accessed from the links. Click on your topic of interest and find a wealth of information.

DIVORCE & SEPARATION ISSUES

Taxpayers must resolve many tax-related matters when they separate or divorce. Failing to consider these tax issues can have a long-term financial impact. Taxpayers contemplating separation or divorce are encouraged to consult with this office before finalizing any agreements. The following articles discuss some of the frequently encountered issues.

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Alimony
Alimony is the term used for payments to a separated or ex-spouse as part of a divorce or separation agreement. The payments are taxable to the recipient and deductible by the payer but are not treated as alimony if the spouses file a joint return with each other.

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Spousal Buy-Out Debt
Generally, a taxpayer’s home mortgage interest is limited to the interest on acquisition debt and $100,000 of equity debt. In a divorce action sometimes one spouse will buy out the other.

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Community Property and Divorce
In community property states, community income must be divided between spouses as required by state law. In general, community income is that earned while spouses live together. Married taxpayers domiciled in the following states are subject to community property rules: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

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Pension Distributions Under a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) is a judgment, decree, or order relating to payment of child support, alimony, or marital property rights to a spouse, former spouse, child or other dependent.

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Who Gets the Education Credits?
Who is deemed to have paid qualified tuition? IRS regulations provide that solely for education credit purposes, if a third party (someone other than the taxpayer, the taxpayer's spouse, or a claimed dependent) makes a payment directly to an eligible educational institution for a student's qualified tuition and related expenses, the student would be treated as receiving the payment from the third party, and, in turn, paying the qualified tuition and related expenses.

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Filing Status for Separated or Divorcing Taxpayers
Filing status for a tax year is determined on the last day of the tax year. If the taxpayers are married on the last day of the tax year (including those taxpayers in the process of divorce), then they have the following filing alternatives. 

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Joint & Several Liability
When married taxpayers file jointly, they become jointly AND INDIVIDUALLY responsible (often referred to as "jointly and severally liable") for the tax and interest or penalty due on their returns. This is true even if they later divorce. 

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Medical Expenses of Children of Divorced or Separated Parents
Medical expenses paid for dependents may be deducted. To claim these expenses, the person must have been a dependent either at the time the medical services were provided or at the time the expenses were paid.

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Divorce Doesn't Untie the Mortgage Knot
Often, when a couple separates and divorces, one spouse continues to live in the family home. Frequently, the departing spouse will simply quitclaim the property to the spouse retaining the home. When filed, the quitclaim deed takes the departing spouse's name off the title. However, it does not remove that spouse's name from the mortgage. 

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Property Transfers Incident to Divorce
No gain or loss is recognized when property is transferred between spouses during marriage. This rule applies also to transfers between former spouses if "incident to a divorce." A transfer is considered incident to divorce if it occurs within one year after a marriage ends, or is related to the ending of a marriage (i.e., occurs within 6 years after a marriage ends and the transfer is made under a divorce or separation agreement).

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Special Home Sale Rules for Divorcing Taxpayers
Tax rules include some special provisions pertaining to the transfer or disposition of the taxpayers' home incident to divorce and the application of ownership and use rules for purposes of qualifying the exclusion of gain. 

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Dependency Exception for Children of Divorced or Separated Parents
The following rules apply when determining which parent claims a child as a dependent where both parents together provide more than 50% of support, the child is in the custody of the parent(s) over half of the year, and the parents are divorced or legally separated under a written agreement, or lived apart at least the last six months of the year.

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