Understanding the Tax Implications of Divorce: Avoiding Common Pitfalls

Julianne Lepo-Incardona |

Divorce is not just an emotional rollercoaster but also a complex financial pivot, especially when it comes to taxes. For residents in Buffalo, NY navigating through the tumultuous waters of divorce, understanding the tax implications is critical to avoid common pitfalls that could impact your financial well-being. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you through.

Navigating Tax Filing Status

One of the immediate changes divorce brings is your tax filing status. If your divorce is finalized by December 31st, the IRS considers you unmarried for the entire year. You'll need to choose between filing as "Single" or "Head of Household," depending on your circumstances. The latter often provides more favorable tax rates and a higher standard deduction if you qualify.

Alimony and Tax Considerations

Recent tax law changes have altered how alimony is treated. For divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, alimony payments are no longer deductible for the payer, nor are they taxable income for the recipient. This shift can significantly affect your financial strategy post-divorce, making it essential to consult with a divorce financial planner in Buffalo who can help you understand these changes and adjust your financial planning accordingly.

Dividing Assets and Retirement Accounts

Dividing assets during a divorce can have major tax implications, particularly with retirement accounts. For example, dividing a 401(k) requires a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO), ensuring that the transfer is tax-free. Failing to handle these transactions correctly can result in hefty taxes and penalties.

Capital Gains on Property Sales

Selling property, such as the family home, during or after a divorce might trigger capital gains taxes. However, you may be eligible for an exclusion if the sale meets certain criteria. Understanding these rules is crucial for Buffalo residents looking to make informed decisions about their property during divorce proceedings.


Divorce introduces a maze of tax considerations that require careful navigation. From changing filing statuses to understanding the nuances of alimony tax laws, there's much more at stake. Engaging a Buffalo-based divorce financial planner can provide you with tailored advice and strategies, ensuring that you emerge from your divorce with a solid financial footing. Avoiding common tax pitfalls starts with being informed and prepared - your financial future depends on it!