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Tax on Alimony

HomeAlimony IRS/TaxTax on Alimony

The government levies tax on alimony payments. Alimony is counted as income for the spouse who is receiving the amount.

If you are a spouse sending the alimony, then you will not be liable to pay the taxes on behalf of your partner. If both the spouses follow certain rules, then the one paying alimony must formally state it as alimony payment and the receiver must report the alimony payment as his/her income.

As per IRS guidelines, amounts paid under separate maintenance or divorce on written separation agreements or decrees entered into by both the spouses are considered as alimony for the purpose of federal tax, under following conditions: If,

  • the joint return is not filed by you and your spouse with each other.
  • the payment is done in cash, including money orders or checks.
  • separated legally abiding to decree of separate maintenance or divorce, when you make the payment, you and your former spouse are not the member of same household.
  • payment made is for maintenance of your spouse or former spouse.
  • the separate maintenance or divorce decree or written separation agreement fails to state that the payment is not alimony.
  • the payment is not used for property settlement or child support.
You have no obligation to make payment in form of property or cash after your spouse’s or former spouse’s death.

Following payments are not considered as alimony under separation instrument or divorce:

  • Payments for the use of payer’s property
  • Child support
  • Payments done to keep up property of the payer
  • Payments which become part of your spouse’s community property income
  • Non-Cash settlements of property

If your divorce decree or separation maintenance agreement provides for child support alimony, then you pay lesser than total needed, but payments first apply for child support, and the rest amount is noted as alimony. Child support is thus, never deductible.

On the other hand, non-cash property settlements if meted in installments or lump sum, in both cases do not qualify as alimony. Also, voluntary payments which are not needed for separation instrument or divorce decree, do not qualify as alimony.

How Much Tax is levied on Alimony Received?

The amount that one pays on receiving alimony depends on overall income annually. You may have to take help of a tax attorney or divorce attorney or for that matter an accountant to understand the exact numbers to plan the tax payments accordingly. The one who pays tax on alimony received must follow the rules of IRS against front-loading, which means advance payment of alimony due later.

It is advisable that alimony must not be front-loaded or excessively high for the first three years after separation as excessive payments will be subjected to being taxed or recaptured to the payer in the third year of post-separation.

How to Calculate and Save Tax Payable on Alimony Received?

Sometimes, the tax on alimony can prove beneficial for both parties. A divorce attorney can help with tax deduction and lowering the burden of alimony tax.

One way to achieve is to transfer alimony from higher earning spouse to another who has lower earning capacity. Thus, the higher earner can save money that goes towards IRS while, the tax bracket of recipient remains unchanged.

Transfer alimony

For example: Say, a higher earner has $200,000 as taxable income for the year. He/she pays alimony amounting to $80,000 annually to spouse. Now the one who earns more will have to pay an income tax on $120,000 and not $200,000. However, the receiver may pay tax on $80,000 amounting to payable $16,000. Thus, the payer saves more than this amount.

 

Note that the payer, who has to pay approximately $50,000 on the income of $200,000, pays approximately only $24,000 on yearly income earned of $120,000. Thus, the payment in between the two amounts to $40,000 in total or rather $10,000 less than what the high earner would have to pay before deduction of alimony payment.

How to Make Sure the Alimony Payment is Tax Deductible?

It is best to make alimony payments as per the divorce decree such as agreement for marital settlement and separation or as stated by the court order. Payments that are done on adherence to temporary support order will also qualify for tax deduction under Section 71 of Internal Revenue Code.

A divorce lawyer will be able to arrange documents which contain details of alimony payments.

The amount paid must be described as that for spousal maintenance, support or alimony. The attorney will help clearly label these payments as deductible for payer spouse and present it as taxable for the recipient spouse.

How to Claim Tax Deduction on Alimony?

It is possible to deduct the tax on alimony payment amount even if you do not itemize the deduction during the income tax return. You can use standard income tax return method by submitting the IRS Form 1040 for claiming deduction. However, you may not be able to utilize the simpler Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ. You will also have to provide the social security number of your former spouse.

Thus, we can come to the conclusion that the person receiving alimony is the only one who has to pay tax on alimony received. The person who pays alimony can receive tax deduction on the paid alimony. IRS will not accept any rewriting of tax code by any legal means.

Get in touch with divorce attorney today to understand how to save tax or how much tax is due on alimony payment and how both the spouses can benefit through the process.

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