By Stacie Clifford Kitts, CPA
Everywhere I turn someone is talking about Sandra Bullock and how Jesse James done her wrong. Boy, I do understand her pain and there is no doubt that the situation sucks. But really, should we all be this shocked?
I think a More Tax Tips reader put the situation into the proper perspective when he said there really is no surprise about how [the marriage] turned out. If you marry a bad boy, you shouldn’t be surprised when he acts badly.
Moreover, Sandra is old enough to know that she should not have latched onto a fixer upper. After all, he was married to a porn star; this might have been a clue that his take on the whole monogamy thing was a little different from say America’s Sweetheart. DUH
Anyway, I’m just sayin’.
So on to the tax part of this post.
If you are headed for divorce court here are a few things to keep in mind for tax time.
- Your marital status on the last day of the year determines your marital status for the entire year.
- Single filing status generally applies to anyone who is unmarried, divorced, or legally separated according to state law.
- A married couple may file a joint return together. The couple’s filing status would be Married Filing Jointly.
- A married couple may elect to file their returns separately. Each person’s filing status would generally be Married Filing Separately. This would be the proper election if you did not want to be tied to your spouse’s tax return particularly if you thought that he or she was evading taxes.
- You may qualify for head of household status even if you are still legally married at the end of the tax year.
- 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” lived with you in the home for more than half the year (except for temporary absences, such as school). However, if the “qualifying person” is your dependent parent, he or she does not have to live with you. See Special rule for parent , under Qualifying Person.
Check out IRS Publication 501 for more information
If you were married or divorced recently, there are a couple of things you’ll want to do to ensure the name on your tax return matches the name registered with the Social Security Administration.
Here are five facts from the IRS for recently married or divorced taxpayers. Following these steps will help avoid problems when you file your tax return.
- If you took your spouse’s last name or if both spouses hyphenate their last names, you may run into complications if you don’t notify the SSA. When newlyweds file a tax return using their new last names, IRS computers can’t match the new name with their Social Security Number.
- If you were recently divorced and changed back to your previous last name, you’ll also need to notify the SSA of this name change.
- Informing the SSA of a name change is a snap; you’ll just need to file a Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card at your local SSA office.
- Form SS-5 is available on SSA’s Web site at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling 800-772-1213 or at local offices. It usually takes about two weeks to have the change verified.
- If you adopted your spouse’s children after getting married, you’ll want to make sure the children have an SSN. Taxpayers must provide an SSN for each dependent claimed on a tax return. For adopted children without SSNs, the parents can apply for an Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number – or ATIN – by filing Form W-7A, Application for Taxpayer Identification Number for Pending U.S. Adoptions with the IRS. The ATIN is a temporary number used in place of an SSN on the tax return. The W-7A is available on IRS.gov, or by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).