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Steven A. Mason Steven A. Mason
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Address tax returns during divorce mediation

During the course of a Florida divorce, couples face a long list of items that must be addressed. Property division and child custody matters are often the chief areas of concern, but there are a multitude of smaller details that also deserve careful consideration. The manner in which taxes will be handled for the last year of the marriage is one of these matters, and is a topic that should be brought up during divorce mediation.

When spouses are not on the same page concerning how to file their taxes for the final year of their marriage, mistakes can be made that could trigger an audit by the Internal Revenue Service. This outcome could lead to a lot of stress and potential expense down the road, all of which could be avoided by a measure of collaboration during tax time. Mediation offers the perfect environment to discuss these matters, as the mediation process is one that focuses on finding solutions that benefit both parties.

One issue that can lead to an audit is when there is a discrepancy concerning the amount of alimony that passes between former spouses. The party who receives these payments often simply takes their monthly payment amount and multiplies it by 12. However, the paying spouse will often include the value of other support that is being provided, such as the cost of insurance or any medical bills that were covered. Regardless of why a discrepancy exists or which party is in the right, a tax audit is unpleasant for all involved.

During divorce mediation, spouses should discuss how they plan to handle the issue of tax returns for their final year of marriage. In some cases, spouses will simply agree to take their financial information to a tax professional, and allow that person to handle the returns for both parties. In other cases, a couple will agree that one party will prepare the returns for both, and that the other party will have a chance to review the returns before they are filed. Both solutions can help avoid a future tax audit, and allow Florida spouses to file this last tax return as a married couple as accurately as possible.

Source: The Buffalo News, Communication is key for estranged couples at tax time, Tim Grant, Feb. 3, 2014

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