Who gets deductions after a divorce?

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Q. After I divorced, I was responsible for paying my home mortgage before I refinanced the loan in my name. The bank has sent the tax documents and they are in my ex’s name. I was on the original loan along with my ex-husband. Is there a way I can claim the tax credit?

— Divorced

A. The answer will depend on a few items.

Was the home jointly owned during the time that you made the interest payments?

Based on the information you provided, we’re going to assume it was.

If your ex-husband was on the mortgage, then he must have also owned the home, said Laurie Wolfe, a certified financial planner and certified public accountant with Lassus Wherley, a subsidiary of Peapack-Gladstone Bank, in New Providence.

“IRS Publication 504 says that if your divorce or separation instrument states that you must pay all of the mortgage payments and your home is jointly owned, then you can deduct and your spouse must include as alimony half of the total payments,” she said. “You can claim the other half as mortgage interest expense, if the home is a qualified home.”

Your home is a qualified home if it is your main home or a second home, Wolfe said.

If your divorce or separation instrument does not state that you must pay this, then you would deduct all of the mortgage interest you paid as an itemized deduction and none of it would be considered alimony, Wolfe said.

In either case, you may receive a notice from the IRS and have to respond with an explanation and proof of payment, she said.

“You could also try to have your former spouse `nominee out’ the interest amount from his tax return and you would `nominee in’ to your return,” she said. “You should have a tax professional help you with this.”

A final note: The mortgage interest tax benefit is an itemized deduction, not a credit, as you said in your question.

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