Uncoupling finances: Three things to know about divorce and taxes

Uncoupling finances: Three things to know about divorce and taxes

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Marital Property |

Divorce is not only an emotional journey but also a complex financial event that significantly impacts both parties involved. Taxes can play a crucial role in the proceedings and can affect the financial well-being of each individual, even after they finalize their divorce. Although divorce generally allows for the transfer of most assets without a tax consequence, there are some exceptions. It is important for those going through a divorce take these exceptions into account before finalizing their divorce agreements.

Assessing the division of property

During a divorce, assets such as business interests, real estate, and retirement accounts are often subject to division between the parties. In some cases, the transfer of these assets can have tax implications:

  • Retirement assets: Special rules apply to the division of retirement assets, and early withdrawal may incur taxes and penalties.
  • Business interests, real estate, and capital gains: If a party transfers their interest in a business or real estate, the action may trigger capital gains tax if the asset has appreciated in value. Various factors will impact whether the IRS expects a capital gains tax, such as the reason for and timing of the transfer.

If, for example, one party takes ownership of a piece of real estate with the intention of selling in the future, they could find themselves with an unexpected tax bill. Instead, it may make more financial sense to sell the property during the divorce. It is vital to consult with a tax professional to navigate these complex issues.

Tax considerations for spousal support

Spousal support, also known as alimony, is a significant aspect of divorce with direct tax consequences. For divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, alimony payments are generally not tax-deductible for the payer. They are also not considered taxable income for the recipient. This change shifts the tax burden and can affect the negotiation of spousal support amounts.

Planning tax filing status

Your tax filing status is another important consideration. It is generally wise to review the tax implication of the filing status on each party’s tax liability before finalizing the agreement.

Divorce can be a complex process with far-reaching financial and legal consequences. Those who fail to take taxes into consideration can find themselves dealing with an unexpected tax bill after the divorce is finalized. The transfer of assets, spousal support, and filing status can carry tax implications that will affect your financial future. As such, it is generally wise to seek guidance from legal and tax professionals who can provide tailored advice for your situation. Understanding the role taxes play in a divorce is a step toward achieving a fair and stable financial outcome for both parties involved.