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Steps to Filing Taxes after a Divorce in Florida

Filing taxes in Florida after a divorce means you’re likely to qualify as either single or a head of household rather than married, assuming the divorce was finalized by the end of that tax year. Some specific issues to track are how selling your property would affect your taxes and whether you qualify as having dependents.

Steps for filing taxes in Florida after a divorce

While your tax burden and overall finances can change significantly after a Florida divorce, the actual steps for filing your taxes will generally remain very similar. You will want to collect all relevant tax records, including W-2 forms and 1099 forms. 

At this point, many individuals decide to use some form of tax software that helps them automatically calculate how much of a refund they’re owed (or how much they owe the government) based on all applicable factors. Alternatively, you could hire a tax professional or attempt to file taxes on your own. (Notably, filing your taxes on your own, without the help of software or a professional, increases the risk of error). 

The IRS offers several options to help make filing federal income tax returns easier, including a guided tax preparation tool for people with an AGI of $79,000 or less and fillable forms that are available to everyone. The Florida Department of Revenue offers a number of electronic services for taxes, fees, and other state remittances that can similarly make filing easier. 

How to determine your tax filing status after divorce

Divorce affects a person’s tax status. As mentioned, if you’re divorced by the end of a given year, you will file as single or a head of household. But if you’re filing taxes for a year before the divorce has been finalized, even if a divorce is upcoming, you still qualify as married for that year.

The default status of a divorced individual is single. A head of household filing status, which is usually more beneficial, only applies if the following criteria are met:

  • Your dependent child lived under your roof for more than 50% of the year.
  • You lived separate and apart from your spouse for the last half of the year.
  • You contributed more than half of the financial total toward your home’s upkeep for the year.

Custodial parent designation

Many people who divorce have children. Typically, both divorced parties cannot claim these children as dependents. Only one divorced parent can claim the dependents, and it is generally the parent who has been designated as a child’s custodial parent. (The custodial parent spends more than 50% of the year with the child. Notably, the parent who qualifies as the custodial parent can sometimes change.)

Child support, alimony, and implications on taxes in Florida

In the past, paid alimony was considered tax-deductible for the payer. Received alimony was considered a form of taxable income for the recipient. But this changed with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA), which set a cutoff point starting on January 1, 2019. 

Divorces finalized after that date adhere to different taxation rules. Alimony payments are not considered tax-deductible, and received alimony is not considered to be taxable income.

Read: How 2017’s Tax Bill Changed How Alimony Is Taxed

Division of assets

Dividing assets in a Florida divorce may significantly alter your financial situation, but it doesn’t necessarily have tax implications. However, taxes do apply when selling assets and splitting the money from the sale. If you do this, you may qualify as the recipient of capital gains. This is most relevant when selling large, expensive properties (like houses). 

Many parties selling their primary home qualify for a special “exclusion of gain” written into the tax code. In ideal circumstances, the first $250,000 or $500,000 (if married filing jointly) in gain can be excluded from capital gain taxation. 

Importantly, even if you don’t qualify for this full exclusion, you may qualify for a partial exclusion. 

Read: Capital Gains Tax on the Sale of Your Home after Divorce by Chris Freemott, Divorce Real Estate Expert

Tax credits

Divorced individuals may qualify for a number of tax credits. For example, tax credits are available for those supporting dependents, those with lower to middle income, and those paying for education.

Click on the link in the previous paragraph to learn more about those tax credits. Often on the IRS website, you can click right on the credit you’re interested in learning more about with the help of an interactive assistant.

Your divorce may result in changes to your health insurance policy. This warrants investigating, as it may allow you to qualify for a Premium Tax Credit. This is a credit based on your health insurance premiums, which can help reduce your overall tax burden.

Similarly, you might qualify for certain tax deductions. For example, expenses incurred while doing business (including the business use of a car or home) are generally tax-deductible. As a head of household, you may also benefit from a higher standard deduction.

Legal fees and settlements

Legal fees incurred as a result of getting a divorce in Florida, including those incurred while reaching a settlement, aren’t typically tax-deductible. Some types of legal fees are tax-deductible, but this applies primarily to fees relating to operating a business, pursuing certain types of lawsuits, and fees incurred while obtaining taxable income. The nuances about which fees might be tax-deductible are somewhat complicated and warrant deeper research if you’re unsure whether a specific fee might be deductible. 

Warning about name changes

If your name changes in any way after you get a divorce, make sure all relevant legal documentation is updated to reflect this change. Your name should match what is on your Social Security card to prevent issues with the IRS properly linking the taxes you file. Otherwise, this could lead to delays, legal problems, and other issues.

Suggested: Don’t Forget to Notify These 19 Agencies after You Change Your Name

Different ways to file your taxes after a divorce in Florida

Most people e-file their taxes, using software to prepare their taxes digitally and then submitting those forms online to the appropriate parties. They can then either mail any money they owe or send it electronically to the state and federal governments as needed. 

Alternatively, you can mail your tax forms to the appropriate location, depending on the specific forms you’re filing. You can check where you ought to mail your forms through the link provided.

References

Get Ready to File Your Taxes. Internal Revenue Service.
IRS Free File: Do Your Taxes for Free. Internal Revenue Service.
eServices for Taxes, Fees and Other State Remittances. Florida Department of Revenue.
Filing Taxes After Divorce or Separation. Internal Revenue Service.
Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA). Cornell Law School.
Publication 523 (2022), Selling Your Home. Internal Revenue Service.
Credits and Deductions for Individuals. Internal Revenue Service.
Am I Eligible to Claim the Premium Tax Credit? Internal Revenue Service.
Florida – Where to File Addresses for Taxpayers and Tax Professionals. Internal Revenue Service.
Divorce. Florida Health.
Family Law Forms. Florida Courts.
Consumer Pamphlet: Divorce In Florida. (March 2023). The Florida Bar.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Divorce Specialists
After spending years in toxic and broken family law courts, and seeing that no one wins when “lawyer up,” we knew there was an opportunity to do and be better. We created Hello Divorce to the divorce process easier, affordable, and completely online. Our guiding principles are to make sure both spouses feel heard, supported, and set up for success as they move into their next chapter in life.