SOURCE: H & R Block

H & R Block

February 10, 2009 16:38 ET

Tax Talk May Be Best Valentine's Day Gift for Newlyweds, Exes

Falling in or Out of Love in 2008 Could Mean Savings at Tax Time

KANSAS CITY, MO--(Marketwire - February 10, 2009) - What better way to say 'I love you' than... to discuss your taxes? Taxes may not be the most romantic topic on Valentine's Day, but a wedding -- or divorce -- in 2008 may make a difference on your tax return.

Taxpayers who were married or divorced in 2008 could be eligible for additional recovery rebate credit money, depending on their income level and economic stimulus payment they received. An estimated 1 in 5 -- or 25 million taxpayers -- may have a second chance for rebate money from last year's economic stimulus plan, according to The Tax Institute at H&R Block (NYSE: HRB). In addition, there are other tax implications.

"Most new couples are thinking about how to start their marriage off with a strong foundation, including a focus on money matters," said Amy McAnarney, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block. "And as recent divorcees rebuild their lives; their financial situation is top of mind."

For newlyweds, The Tax Institute recommends the following when preparing their first return as a married couple:

--  Filing status: Married taxpayers typically file a joint return because
    of the added tax benefits and credits. Filing separately is usually worse
    because many deductions and credits are reduced or lost. However, filing
    separately can actually lower a tax bill in certain cases. Taxpayers might
    want to figure out your taxes both ways to determine which is best. And
    don't forget to figure your state taxes, too.
--  Name change: If you changed your name after you were married, apply
    for a Social Security card with your new name.
--  Moving: To avoid any delays in refunds or correspondence, inform the
    IRS if you moved.
--  Professional help: Visit a tax professional and have an estimate of
    your current-year tax done to find out if you should adjust your
    withholding. Or, you can go online and use the H&R Block Withholding
    Calculator to see how much you should withhold from your paycheck:
    http://www.hrblock.com/taxes/tax_calculators/index.html#
    

A divorce or legal separation can complicate tax returns. Recent divorcees should understand the terms of their divorce and consider these issues when preparing their returns:

--  Head of Household status: If you are divorced as of the last day of
    2008, paid more than half the cost of keeping up your home, and the
    qualifying dependent lived in your home more than half the year, you may be
    eligible to claim this status. If you are still married but your spouse did
    not live in the same house with you and your child, you may qualify to be
    treated as unmarried for tax purposes.
--  Children: Child support isn't deductible by the payer, and it's not
    income to the recipient. If you're the custodial parent, you can claim the
    child as a dependent. The noncustodial parent can claim the dependent
    exemption for the child only with consent of the custodial parent. You must
    attach the written consent to your tax return.
--  Alimony: Alimony is deductible by the payer and considered taxable
    income to the payee. The payer and recipient need to have alimony payments
    clearly defined in the divorce agreement. If your alimony payments decrease
    more than $15,000 in the first three years, see the recapture rules in IRS
    Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals.
    

Whether you live in Valentine, Neb., or Loveland, Colo., not getting all the tax credits and deductions possible could be costing more than the Valentine Day's confections, flowers and restaurants.

Visit www.hrblock.com/taxes/tax_tips and www.digits.hrblock.com or call 1-800-HRBLOCK for more information on helpful tax tips, or to locate one of H&R Block's more than 13,000 locations nationwide.

The Tax Institute, a division of H&R Block, is a national leader in providing unbiased research, analysis and interpretation of federal and state tax laws. Staffed by Enrolled Agents, CPAs, and Attorneys, The Tax Institute provides industry expertise for matters related to taxes and the professional tax preparation industry.

About H&R Block

H&R Block Inc. (NYSE: HRB) is the world's preeminent tax services provider, having served more than 400 million clients since 1955 and generating annual revenues of $4.1 billion in fiscal year 2008. H&R Block provides income tax return preparation and related services and products via a nationwide network of approximately 13,000 company-owned and franchised offices and through TaxCut® online and software solutions. The company also provides business services through RSM McGladrey. For more information visit our Online Press Center at www.hrblock.com.

Contact Information

  • For Further Information:
    Elizabeth McKinley
    816.854.4568
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