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DuPage County property division attorneyWhen spouses choose to end their marriage through divorce, they will need to address and resolve multiple different financial issues. During the process of dividing marital assets, real estate property owned by either or both spouses will be one of the key issues to consider, since these are likely to be some of the most valuable assets a couple owns. In addition to determining how to handle ownership of their marital home, couples may also need to consider other properties they own, such as vacation homes or commercial properties. To ensure that these assets are addressed properly, it is important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer, as well as other experts who can perform appraisals of property and provide guidance about financial decisions.

Factors to Consider When Dividing Real Estate and Other Marital Property

If a couple’s marital home or any other piece of real estate property was acquired during their marriage, it will usually be considered a marital asset that will need to be divided along with other property. However, even if real estate was owned by one spouse before getting married, it may be converted from separate property into marital property if both spouses used the property, made improvements, or contributed to mortgage payments and other expenses related to the home. In some cases, a spouse who owns real estate that is considered separate property may be required to repay the other spouse for their contributions to increased property values or equity in the home.

Divorcing spouses may sell their marital home and divide the proceeds from the sale, or one spouse may retain ownership of the home, while the other spouse receives other marital property of a similar value. When selling real estate property, spouses should be sure to understand whether capital gains taxes will apply to the profits they earn. If one spouse will own the home, the mortgage will usually need to be refinanced, and the other spouse will need to be removed from the home’s title and deed. A spouse who plans to maintain sole ownership of their home should be sure they will have the financial resources to make mortgage payments and pay other ongoing expenses, including utilities, maintenance, and property taxes.

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Limited Tax Deductions May Make Keeping Home CostlierThe elimination of the alimony tax deduction has rightfully received the most attention amongst the recent changes to the federal tax laws. Not being able to deduct your spousal maintenance payments from your federal taxes is changing how divorcees negotiate their maintenance. However, changes to tax deductions related to real estate could affect whether you want to keep a home or other real property after a divorce. People in high-asset divorces may have fewer tax deductions available to them.

Tax Deductions

One of the goals of the federal tax reform law passed in 2017 was to simplify the tax code. The standard deduction for a single filer increased from $6,000 to $12,000, but many other deductions were reduced or eliminated, including:

  • Capping deductions for state and local income and property taxes at $10,000 when filing as a single person or a married couple filing jointly, or at $5,000 for a married person filing separately;
  • Eliminating deductions for home equity loan interest unless the loan was used to pay for improvements towards a primary or secondary home;
  • Reducing the mortgage interest tax deduction from $1 million to $750,000 if the mortgage was obtained after Dec. 15, 2017; and
  • Eliminating deductions for foreign real estate taxes.

Some of the people who stand to lose the most from the tax deduction changes are those who own multiple real properties and those who live in areas with high local income and property taxes. Even though the standard deduction has doubled, people in a high-asset divorce may have been able to save more money on taxes with the previous deductions intact.

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