April 18 -- this year's due date for filing your income taxes -- will be here before we know it, and many Rhode Island residents have already begun preparing their tax forms for the Internal Revenue Service. That being said, Rhode Island residents who divorced in 2015 may find themselves facing some unexpected challenges when it comes to preparing their taxes.
The first thing any individual needs to do to file taxes is to determine what their filing status will be. While many married couples in Rhode Island keep it relatively simple and choose "married, filing jointly" those who divorced in 2015 must choose another option. First of all, if an individual divorced at any point in 2015, he or she may decide to either file his or her taxes as single, or possibly head of household. However, couples that have separated but have not had their divorce finalized yet still may have to file as either married filing separately or married filing jointly.
Many Rhode Island residents find that divorce greatly affects their income. For example, beyond going from a two-income household to a single-income household, individuals may be paying or receiving spousal support or child support. How does this affect their taxes? First of all, keep in mind that child support cannot be deducted by the individual paying it and cannot be considered taxable to the individual receiving it. Spousal support, on the other hand, is a different story. Individuals receiving alimony must claim it as income, and individuals paying spousal support may deduct these payments.
If a couple in Rhode Island has children, after they divorce child custody decisions will need to be made. One decision that should not be overlooked is which parent will retain the ability to claim the child as a dependent. In general, the primary custodial parent is the one who will do so. However, this can be negotiated. Parents should make sure they are in agreement about who will claim the exemption. If they both do so in the same tax year, they could be audited by the IRS.
These are only some examples of how divorce can affect an individual's taxes in 2016. Rhode Island residents who have recently divorced may want to obtain legal advice prior to filing their taxes, to avoid making potentially costly errors.
Source: The Huffington Post, "Common Tax Issues for the Recently Divorced or Separated," Joseph E. Cordell, Feb. 4, 2016