Tax Effects of Divorce or Separation

If you are divorcing or recently divorced, taxes may be the last thing on your mind. However, these events can have a big impact on your wallet. Alimony and a name or address change are just a few items you may need to consider. Here are some key tax tips to keep in mind:

  • Child Support.  Child support payments are not deductible and if you received child support, it is not taxable.
  • Alimony Paid.  You can deduct alimony paid to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation decree, regardless of whether you itemize deductions. Voluntary payments made outside a divorce or separation decree are not deductible. You must enter your spouse’s Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number on your Form 1040 when you file.
  • Alimony Received.  If you get alimony from your spouse or former spouse, it is taxable in the year you get it. Alimony is not subject to tax withholding so you may need to increase the tax you pay during the year to avoid a penalty. To do this, you can make estimated tax payments or increase the amount of tax  withheld from your wages.
  • Spousal IRA.  If you get a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance by the end of your tax year, you can’t deduct contributions you make to your former spouse’s traditional IRA. You may be able to deduct contributions you make to your own traditional IRA.
  • Name Changes.  If you change your name after your divorce, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration. File Form SS-5, Application for a Social Security Card. You can get the form on SSA.gov or call 800-772-1213 to order it. The name on your tax return must match SSA records. A name mismatch can cause problems in the processing of your return and may delay your refund.  Health Care Law Considerations.
  • Special Marketplace Enrollment Period.  If you lose health insurance coverage due to divorce, you are still required to have coverage for every month of the year for yourself and the dependents you can claim on your tax return. You may enroll in health coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace during a Special Enrollment Period, if you lose coverage due to a divorce.
  • Changes in Circumstances.  If you purchase health insurance coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may get advance payments of the premium tax credit. If you do, you should report changes in circumstances to your Marketplace throughout the year. These changes include a change in marital status, a name change, a change of address, and a change in your income or family size. Reporting these changes will help make sure that you get the proper type and amount of financial assistance. This will also help you avoid getting too much or too little credit in advance.
  • Shared Policy Allocation. If you divorced or are legally separated during the tax year and are enrolled in the same qualified health plan, you and your former spouse must allocate policy amounts on your separate tax returns to figure your premium tax credit and reconcile any advance payments made on your behalf. Publication 974, Premium Tax Credit, has more information about the Shared Policy Allocation. For more on this topic, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. You can get it on IRS.gov/forms at any time.

IRS Warns of Back-to-School Scams; Encourages Students, Parents, Schools to Stay Alert

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today warned taxpayers against telephone scammers targeting students and parents during the back-to-school season and demanding payments for non-existent taxes, such as the “Federal Student Tax.”

People should be on the lookout for IRS impersonators calling students and demanding that they wire money immediately to pay a fake “federal student tax.” If the person does not comply, the scammer becomes aggressive and threatens to report the student to the police to be arrested. As schools around the nation prepare to re-open, it is important for taxpayers to be particularly aware of this scheme going after students and parents.

“Although variations of the IRS impersonation scam continue year-round, they tend to peak when scammers find prime opportunities to strike”, said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “As students and parents enter the new school year, they should remain alert to bogus calls, including those demanding fake tax payments from students.”

The IRS encourages college and school communities to share this information so that students, parents and their families are aware of these scams.

Scammers are constantly identifying new tactics to carry out their crimes in new and unsuspecting ways. This year, the IRS has seen scammers use a variety of schemes to fool taxpayers into paying money or giving up personal information. Some of these include:

  • Altering the caller ID on incoming phone calls in a “spoofing” attempt to make it seem like the IRS, the local police or another agency is calling
  • Imitating software providers to trick tax professionals–IR-2016-103
  • Demanding fake tax payments using iTunes gift cards–IR-2016-99
  • Soliciting W-2 information from payroll and human resources professionals–IR-2016-34
  • “Verifying” tax return information over the phone–IR-2016-40
  • Pretending to be from the tax preparation industry–IR-2016-28

If you receive an unexpected call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here are some of the telltale signs to help protect yourself.

The IRS Will Never:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to immediately bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

If you get a suspicious phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Search the web for telephone numbers scammers leave in your voicemail asking you to call back. Some of the phone numbers may be published online and linked to criminal activity.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
  • If you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS directly at 800-829-1040.

IRS Summertime Tax Tips

 Find Easy-to-Use Online Tools on IRS.gov

If you need tax help, the IRS has many online tools. You can e-file your tax return, check your refund status or get your tax questions answered.  Best of all, you can use the tools on IRS.gov any time. Here’s a list of popular online, self-help tools that millions have used for free:

  • IRS Free File.  Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file your federal tax return at no cost. Free File will do much of the work for you with brand-name tax software or Fillable Forms. If you still need to file your 2015 tax return, Free File is available through Oct. 17. The only way to use IRS Free File is through IRS.gov.
  • Where’s My Refund?  Checking the status of your tax refund is easy with Where’s My Refund? You can also use this tool with the IRS2Go mobile app.
  • Direct Pay.  Use IRS Direct Pay to pay your taxes or pay your estimated tax directly from your checking or savings account. Direct Pay is safe, easy and free. This tool walks you through five simple steps to pay your tax in a single online session. You can also use Direct Pay with the IRS2Go mobile app.
  • Online Payment Agreement.  If you can’t pay your taxes in full, apply for an Online Payment Agreement. The Direct Debit payment plan option is a lower-cost, hassle-free way to make monthly payments.
  • Withholding Calculator.  Did you get a larger refund or owe more tax than you expected the last time you filed taxes? If so, you may want to change the amount of tax withheld from your paycheck. TheWithholding Calculator tool can help you determine if you need to give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate and provide information that will help you fill out the form too. Give the new Form W-4 to your employer to make the change.
  • Interactive Tax Assistant.  The ITA tool is a tax-law resource that takes you through a series of questions and provides you with responses to tax law questions. For instance, you can find out if you may need to make an individual shared responsibility payment or if you are eligible for an exemption, when you file your taxes. You can also use the tool to find out if you may be eligible for the premium tax credit.
  • IRS Select Check.  If you want to deduct your gift to charity, donate to a qualified organization. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if a charity is qualified.
  • Tax Map.  The IRS Tax Map offers tax law information by subject. It integrates web links, tax forms, instructions and publications related to your topic into one search result.

About Your IRS Notice or Letter

The IRS normally sends correspondence in the mail. We mail millions of letters to taxpayers every year. Keep these important points in mind if you get a letter or notice:

  • Don’t Ignore It.  You can respond to most IRS notices quickly and easily.
  • Follow Instructions.  Read the notice carefully. It will tell you if you need to take any action. Be sure to follow the instructions. The letter will also have contact information if you have questions.
  • Focus on the Issue.  IRS notices usually deal with a specific issue about your tax return or tax account. Your notice or letter will explain the reason for the contact and give you instructions on how to handle the issue. You can learn more about your notice or letter on IRS.gov.
  • Correction Notice. If the IRS corrected your tax return, you should review the information provided and compare it to your tax return.

If you agree, you don’t need to reply unless a payment is due.

If you don’t agree, it’s important that you respond. Follow the instructions on the notice for the best way to respond to us. You may be able to call us to resolve the issue. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice with you when you call. If you choose to write to us, be sure to include information and any documents you want us to consider. Also, write your taxpayer identification number (Social Security number, employer identification number or individual taxpayer identification number) on each page of the letter you send. Mail your reply to the address shown on the notice. Allow at least 30 days for a response.

  • Respond to Requests about the Premium Tax Credit.  The IRS may send you a letter asking you to clarify or verify your premium tax credit information. You should follow the instructions on the letter. For more information about these letters, see the Understanding Your Letter 0012C page on IRS.gov/aca.
  • You Don’t Need to Visit the IRS.  You can handle most notices without visiting the IRS. If you have questions, call the phone number in the upper right corner of the notice. Have a copy of your tax return and the notice when you call.
  • Keep the Notice.  Keep a copy of the IRS notice with your tax records.
  • Watch Out for Scams.  Don’t fall for phone and phishing email scamsthat use the IRS as a lure. We will contact you about unpaid taxes by mail first – not by phone.  Be aware that the IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email, text or social media.

IRS Tax Tips provide valuable information throughout the year. IRS.gov offers tax help and info on various topics including common tax scams, taxpayer rightsand more.

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