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Post divorce tax filing tips for Massachusetts residents

Divorced Massachusetts residents who didn't make the tax deadline of April 15 may benefit from these tips for post-divorce income tax filing.

First, your filing status may have changed if you were divorced during the last year. Many people simply assume they will be filing as married, but it may be best to file separately.

A spouse may claim head of household and get that tax break if they have paid out over half of the costs of the household. In these cases, the other spouse files separately as single.

It used to be that a divorce decree could dictate which parent was allowed to claim the children, and when, on federal income tax returns. Now, however, there is IRS Form 8332, "Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent," which has to be signed by the custodial parent if the non-custodial parent claims the kids.

To qualify as your dependent, the child must live with the parent over half of the year and be younger than 19 by December 31 of the previous year. Full-time students under 24 may also qualify.

Always remember to report alimony as a source of income, because the spouse paying it will surely claim it as a deduction, and the IRS is savvy enough to match up returns to detect discrepancies. No such luck with child support though. Don't even try it.

When divvying up assets of the marriage, which may include the family home, remember that as a married couple, you can claim half a million gain on your primary residence. Singles only get half of that, but whoever retains the marital home can claim the mortgage interest deduction.

It can get confusing, especially the first year. Your tax preparer and the family law attorney who handled your divorce are both good sources of information if you need clarification on any tax issues.

Source: Huffington Post/Reuters, "4 Things To Know About Filing Your Taxes After Divorce" Lauren Young, Apr. 10, 2014

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