When it comes to your taxes, marriage changes everything. From choosing the correct filing status to determining what is and is not taxable, tax time can bring some unwanted stress if you've been recently married or divorced.

To help, here are some tips:

  • Choose the right filing status. Your filing status determines most of the amounts on your tax return, including tax bracket, exemptions and eligibility for credits and deductions.

    Your choice of status ultimately depends on whether you are married or unmarried on the last day of the tax year—generally, December 31. If you are still in the process of going through a divorce, then you are still considered married. The IRS only considers you unmarried if you have a final decree of divorce or separate maintenance at the end of the year.

    Unmarried persons generally use the single filing status. However, you can file as head of household if a qualified dependent lives with you.

    Married persons can file either jointly or separately. When filing jointly, the income and deductions of both spouses are combined on one return. Filing a joint return means both of you are liable for any tax liability, even if only one of you earned the income.

    While filing separate returns relieves you from liability of your spouse's tax, your tax rate is generally higher and you won't be allowed to claim certain credits, including the Earned Income Credit and education credits.

  • Not all costs of marriage or divorce are deductible. You cannot deduct the costs of getting married or divorced. You can, however, deduct any legal fees you paid for tax advice related to divorce and any legal fees you paid to receive alimony.
  • Know the rules about alimony and child support. Alimony is payment written into the divorce papers for the purpose of supporting the recipient spouse. Child support, on the other hand, is a payment from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent, intended to give the child a lifestyle similar to what it was before the divorce.

    Alimony you receive is taxable income and must be included as income on your tax return. Remember to give your Social Security number to your former spouse to avoid a $50 penalty.

    Alimony you pay is deductible, even if you don't itemize deductions. You must include your former spouse's Social Security number on your tax return in order to claim the deduction.

  • Save time and money now and next year. If your name has changed, remember the names on your tax return must match the names the Social Security Administration has on file. If the information does not match, the IRS will likely reject your return.

    Just because your marriage status changes doesn't mean you can't do your own taxes. Affordable, and even free, Web products and mobile apps will guide you. Solutions such as TaxAct provide explanations and tips in Life Events, and check your return for errors and missed savings.

    It pays to think ahead. Review and adjust your withholding via Form W-4 to prevent a large tax bill next year.

Learn more at www.irs.gov and www.TaxAct.com/taxinfo. Try TaxAct risk-free at www.TaxAct.com.

September 2017
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Upcoming Tax Dates

September 5 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Labor Day) Details

September 10 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of August.

September 11 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during August, report them to your employer Details

September 14 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of August.

September 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your 2017 estimated tax if you are not paying your income tax for the year through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES. This is the third installment Details

September 15 — S Corporations
File a 2016 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. This due date applies only if you timely requested an automatic 6-month extension Details

September 15 — Partnerships
File a 2016 calendar year return (Form 1065). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 5-month extension Details

September 15 — Corporations
Deposit the third installment of estimated income tax for 2016 Details

September 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

September 15 — Nonpayroll withholding
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

September 27 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of August.

September 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of September.

September 29 — Regular method taxes (special September deposit rule)
Deposit the tax for the period beginning September 16 and ending September 26.

September 29 — Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method (special September deposit rule).
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the period beginning September 1 and ending September 11.

September 30 — Wagering tax
File Form 730 and pay the tax on wagers accepted during August.

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