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Understanding the 2018 alimony deduction

At the Law Office of Brian Turner in Texas, one of the most frequent questions we hear at this time of the year from people paying spousal support is whether or not they can deduct these payments on their federal income tax returns. Conversely, one of the most frequent questions we hear from people receiving spousal support is whether or not they must declare these payments as income on their federal income tax returns.

As the Muller Company, a CPA firm, explains, up until Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in December of 2017, you could deduct the alimony payments you made and had to declare them as income if you received them. That still holds true for your 2018 federal income tax returns if, in fact, you and your former spouse finalized your separation or divorce prior to December 31, 2018.

If, however, your separation or divorce has yet to be finalized, or if you modify it in any way this year or at any time in the future, then you cannot deduct these payments if you make them and you need not declare them as income if you receive them.

Precise requirements

It should come as no shock to you that the Internal Revenue Service has very specific rules and regulations regarding the alimony deduction. For instance, in order for you to take it for your payments under your pre-2019 divorce. separation or separate maintenance decree, your payments must meet the following criteria:

  • You must make them per a written separation, separate maintenance or divorce decree.
  • The decree must state that your payments end, at the latest, when your spouse or former spouse dies.
  • Under no circumstances can the decree or its supporting documents imply in any way that your payments are child support.
  • You must make your payments to or on behalf of your former spouse.
  • You must make them in cash or a cash equivalency.
  • You must include your former spouse’s Social Security Number on your tax return.

For further information, please visit this page of our website.

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