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Alimony & Tax Deductions

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After the divorce is finalized, the divorce court may give an alimony award to one spouse. The paying spouse can deduct alimony payments, also referred to as spousal support or maintenance in alimony law, from the taxes he or she pays.

Tax Deduction Requirements

Any alimony payments made under the divorce or legal separation decree or written agreement can generally be tax deductible as long as the following requirements are met:

  • The couple doesn't file a joint tax return
  • Alimony payments are in cash, check or money order
  • Spousal support is not permanent alimony
  • The agreement or decree doesn't say the payment isn't alimony
  • If legally separated, the couple is not living together when making payments
  • No liability to make the alimony payment after the receiving spouse dies
  • Alimony is not child support

The alimony payments are deducted from the paying spouse's income and included as income for the receiving spouse.

Any property settlements that aren't cash don't qualify as alimony and can't be deducted. Voluntary payments that aren't required by the divorce decree or agreement also don't qualify as alimony.

If your divorce decree requires a spouse to pay both child support and alimony but the paying spouse doesn't make the total payment, the money is applied to child support first. The rest will be considered alimony and that portion will be tax deductable.

Claiming Tax Deductions

Tax deductions for alimony don't have to be itemized. The deduction is claimed on Form 1040 - Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ can't be used. On the form, the receiving spouse's social security number must be included, otherwise there is a $50 penalty and the deduction may not be allowed.

The receiving spouse reports the full alimony award as income on line 11 of Form 1040. If the receiving spouse doesn't cooperate and give the paying spouse his or her social security number, the receiving spouse may be responsible for the $50 penalty fee.

Speak to a Divorce Lawyer about Alimony and Tax Deductions

A local divorce lawyer can explain how alimony may affect you when filing your tax returns. Learn how to document your alimony payments properly so that you receiving the full deduction and don't have to worry about penalties. Connect with a divorce attorney near you today by calling 877-349-1310 or filling out a divorce case review form.

The above summary of alimony and tax deductions is by no means all-inclusive and is not legal advice. Laws may have changed since our last update. For the latest information on alimony laws, speak to a local divorce lawyer in your state.