Alimony and Taxes

You can claim a deduction on alimony or maintenance that you pay to your spouse or ex-spouse or to any third pay on behalf of your spouse or ex-spouse. This section provides information on alimony orders and agreements entered into after 1984. Here you will find information on what deductions the paying spouse can claim and what taxes the recipient spouse must pay.

Alimony payments whether made as per a divorce order or under a written agreement are generally deductible if:

• The two spouses no longer file a joint return together.
• The payment is made in cash. Money orders and checks are considered as cash.
• The divorce order or the agreement does not say that the payment is for some other purpose and not alimony.
• If the spouses are legally separated, they are not members of the same household at the time of the payment.
• The paying spouse is not required to make any payments (cash or property) on the death of the recipient.
• The payment is not considered as payment for child support.

Child support is not deductible. If any spouse has to pay child support and alimony but the spouse pays less than the total amount needed, the amount is first adjusted towards child support and the balance towards alimony.

Property settlements will not be considered as alimony even though the decree or written agreement requires the settlement nor will any payments made by one spouse to the other or to a third party but not required by the decree or written agreement.

A spouse claiming a deduction for alimony need not itemize the deduction. The deduction must be claimed on Form 1040 (line 34a). The social security number of the recipient must be provided. Failure to do so can result in the deduction being disallowed and a penalty of $50.

The recipient spouse must report the full amount of alimony on Form 1040 (line 11) and must provide the paying spouse with his or her social security number. Failure to do so can result in a penalty of $50.

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