April 14, 2017

WTOP Interview: How To Navigate Your Taxes After A Divorce

LISTEN NOW: Many things change after a divorce including your taxes. We help you avoid unwanted tax surprises.
Dawn Doebler, MBA, CPA, CFP®, CDFA®, Senior Wealth Advisor

Interview Transcript:

Hillary Howard: You know people navigate many challenges in life when transitioning from being married to becoming single again after a divorce. One of the biggest and sometimes most overlooked changes are in the area of taxes.

Shawn Anderson: Joining us to talk about post-divorce tax changes, Dawn Doebler; Senior Wealth Advisor at Bridgewater Wealth in Bethesda and cofounder of Her Wealth, good to have you back Dawn. Thanks so much. Taxes are already complicated no matter where you are in life, so how can divorcees know what changes that they will need to make to make their taxes work because their marriage didn’t?

Dawn Doebler: Right, as you said Sean taxes are complicated. I think when most women think about taxes they frankly want to run the other direction. What I want to talk about today is the fact that the lives changes that you’re making as a result of divorce often times have a tax impacts and many times very significant impacts. So we have an article that goes into a lot of detail, but the most important thing for women to remember is that if there’s a big life change happening likely there’s a tax impact to that.

Hillary Howard: Are there any changes that are simple to make for women?

Dawn Doebler: Yes, actually the simplest tax change that happens as a result of divorce is a change in your filing status. When you’re in the middle of the divorce usually you will still be filing jointly with your spouse and we're actually to talk about some of the challenges of that next week so I'll leave that till then. But once you are officially divorced you have only two choices, you can file single or head of household and what determines that is that for head of household you have to have dependent children who live in your home and your home is their primary residence, so that’s an example of how a change in your life situation results in a tax change.

Shawn Anderson: So if someone is getting alimony or getting child support, how does that affect taxes?

Dawn Doebler: You know the amount of taxes that you’re responsible to pay is based on your total income. So most often at Her Wealth we see women who are beginning to receive alimony. The difference in alimony versus income that you receive from a job is that there is no withholding. Most often if you’re beginning to receive alimony, you have higher income and you will need to make estimated tax payments quarterly, usually you'll need help calculating what those amounts are and you may need help filing those estimates.

Hillary Howard: So, one of the very difficult things emotionally of course is splitting up property, but there could some financial repercussions too, can you feel us out on that?

Dawn Doebler: It is important to pay attention to the assets that you’re getting on divorce. If you’re receiving retirement assets you have to be careful about the way those are transferred to make sure that the transfers are tax-free. If you’re receiving taxable assets like securities from a joint account, you want to make sure that you’re getting the asset as well as the cost basis, there is more information about that in our article, but that’s a very important part. And thirdly I want to suggest you should always ask your advisors what is the tax impact of this change, you may work with an advisor who will rebalance your portfolio or who will sell you a product and it’s your responsibility to ask whether the tax impacts public transaction.

Shawn Anderson: Wow! Plenty of information there thanks Dawn.

Hillary Howard: Thanks.

Shawn Anderson: Dawn Doebler with Bridgewater Wealth in Bethesda. And for more divorce finance tips, she writes more about it on WTOP.com/search Her Wealth.

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Shawn: Now you hear all kinds of deals about leasing cars, how can you negotiate a better deal if you want to lease?

Nina: Okay, well many people don't realize that they can actually negotiate the sticker price on a leased car in the same way that you would do that if you're buying a car. And since when you lease -- when you're, you know, your lease payments basically cover the depreciation, the difference between the sales price and the residual value. So it's definitely in your best interest to try to reduce that sales price as much as possible because then you'll pay you know, smaller dollars over the life of the lease. Make sure you pay attention to the down payment at the lease signing. And so here's an example, you might see an ad that says you know, lease payment is only 1.99 a month and that sounds like a great deal for thirty six months. The catch is, is that it might require a $3,600 down payment. So, if you amortize the down payment, then actually that 1.99 special, becomes 2.99. So, you really have to kind of look at total costs. 

And then lastly, dealerships use the term, money or lease factor, when they're calculating your financing costs and a lease factor is not the same as an interest rate. So, you have to make sure the dealer converts that lease factor into a comparable interest rate so you know what your financing charges are. 

Shawn: At the end of the day, does one method wind up being more expensive more often than the other, or can we tell that?

Nina: You know what, it really depends on how long, if you're going to hold the car for a long time, you're better off buying. But if you know, and if you're not, if you just really enjoy driving and you want to have a new car, then go ahead and lease. I mean, there's pros and cons to both, to be honest with you, it's not one size fits all.

Shawn: Alright Nina, great. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Alright, Nina Mitchell is with The Colony Group, for more go to wtop.com and search Her Wealth.

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Dawn Doebler, MBA, CPA, CFP®, CDFA®, Senior Wealth Advisor

Dawn’s experience spans more that 25 years providing wealth management, financial planning and corporate finance solutions for clients. As an MBA, CPA, Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), and a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®), she is uniquely qualified to understand the challenges and financial needs of clients from executives to entrepreneurs, as well as single breadwinner parents. Dawn is a weekly contributor to WTOP radio.