Couples who have recently been divorced, or are currently going through a divorce, do not always get along or even communicate effectively. And while it is certainly understandable as divorce can be rather stressful, this failure to communicate and lack of trust can lead to a number of issues when it comes to filing taxes.
The first thing to remember is that filing taxes is not something to be taken lightly, and that any discrepancies are a sure way to have the Internal Revenue Service performing an audit, which could lead to unintended additional expenses.
If you are someone who was also recently divorced, or in the process of divorce, it's important to file your taxes right away. At this point, it is almost impossible to tell how cooperative your ex-spouse is going to be. Additionally, certified public accountants and tax preparers are normally inundated with work as the tax deadline approaches, which this year falls on April 17. Because of all of these reasons, you want to start on your taxes as soon as possible.
When filing taxes, couples have the option of filing jointly or separately. However, keep in mind that filing jointly means one spouse would be held responsible for any tax problems their ex-spouse may run into. Because of this, while it may be less expensive to file jointly and not have to pay two tax preparers, it can also be more risky.
Lastly, if you and your ex-spouse have children together it's important to figure out who gets to claim head of the household status. Typically, this is the parent who has child custody more than half of the year. It's important to make sure it's clear who the head of the household is, as if both parents try to claim this for the dependency deduction, it will almost certainly be a red flag for the IRS.
Source: Business Insider, "Divorced Couples Are Walking Right Into These Tax Traps," Mandi Woodruff, April 3, 2012