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.
- 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, 2023. Unless you have a final divorce decree in hand, you can't file as single, but you might be able to file as head of household if you have dependents. You also have the option of filing your return jointly with your spouse, or as a married person filing separately.
If your divorce or legal separation became final on or before December 31, 2023, then you’re considered not married for the year and can answer “no” when we ask “Were you married?”.
When you get to the end and are ready to e-file your return, be sure to enter the full adjusted gross income (AGI) from your 2022 return. If you filed jointly, even if your spouse earned 100% of the income, you’ll still enter the AGI exactly as it appears on your 2022 return. Don’t allocate or split it up—doing so will cause a rejection.
- 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.
- 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.