Marital changes can mean a few things for your taxes, depending on where you are in your relationship. There are some differences for those who are married but separated and those who are officially divorced. As you get started on your return, here are some things to know.
1. Your married filing status won’t change until your divorce is finalized
The IRS continues to treat you as a married person as long as you are still legally married on December 31, 2020. Unless you have a final divorce decree in hand, you can't file as single or head of household, even if your spouse doesn't live with you. You do, however, have the option of filing your return jointly with your spouse, or as a married person filing separately.
2. Only one of you can claim each dependent
If you do file your return separately, only one of you (you or your ex-spouse) can claim each of your dependents. So if you have children or adult dependents you both claimed in the past, only one of you can claim each now. If your dependent lived with you for a longer period of time during the year than with your ex-spouse, generally you would claim them on your return.
3. The name you file your return with must match what’s on your Social Security card
Divorces take time to finalize, and while you may have already elected to go by your name before marriage, you must file your return with whichever name is on your Social Security card. So if you haven’t gone to the Social Security Administration to officially change your name back to what it was previously, you must file your return with your married name. The IRS verifies names and Social Security numbers directly with the SSA database, so if your name doesn’t match, your return will be rejected and you’ll have to resubmit with the correct name.