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Is alimony tax deductible?

I paid alimony to my ex-wife last year (2011) and I'm just wondering if I can claim it as a tax deduction on my taxes?

Mar 02, 2012 by Xavier from Lancaster, PA in  |  Flag
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4 votes

I agree with Jim's and Pauls' response. I would like to add two other considerations that should be reviewed prior to final signing. If the alimony/spousal support changes substantially or ends within the first 3 years, you may be subject to recapture. If spousal support/alimony changes when children (if applicable) turn age of majority or other triggering events, you may be subject to the Child Contingcy Rule in which spousal support may be reclassified as child support (which is neither deductible or included). A search via the internet will provide more details on both rules. The rules aren't applicable in most cases, but could be costly if yours is the rare occasion.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Mar 05, 2012 from Phoenix, AZ

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Jim Blankenship Level 17

Alimony is deductible to the extent that it meets the following qualifications (ALL must be met):

  • Payments are required by a divorce or separation agreement
  • Payer and recipient spouse do not file a joint tax return
  • Payment is in cash (includes checks)
  • Payment is not designated as "not alimony"
  • Divorced and legally separated spouses are not members of the same household when the payments are made (as long as one spouse leaves the household within one month of the payment then the two are considered not members of the same household)
  • Payments cease upon the death of the receiving spouse (if part of the payment would continue after death, that part of the payment is considered not to be alimony, and the remainder could still be considered alimony if all other qualifications are met)
  • Payment is not treated as child support (child support from divorce or separation is never deductible)

Alimony can include payments to third parties on behalf of the recipient spouse as well - for example, payment of a portion of mortgage or rent costs on behalf of the recipient spouse can be considered alimony if all of the qualifications are met.

The recipient spouse must also recognize the alimony as income.


1 Comment   |  Flag   |  Mar 02, 2012 from New Berlin, IL
Jim Blankenship

Sorry about the funky formatting. Those alternating italicized and non-italicized sentences were supposed to be bullet-points.

Flag |  Mar 02, 2012 near New Berlin, IL

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Before signing any divorce settlement, you really need to have it reviewed by a competent financial planner, divorce financial analyst and/or CPA or tax professional. Too often, taxpayers are not familiar with the impact of all that is contained in a divorce settlement and even competent legal counsel may miss something or not be aware of the tax ramifications. "Alimony recapture" is only one issue to consider as is any agreement with certain contingencies that can reclassify the alimony as child support instead.

To your original question, please note that while you can deduct alimony, your spouse needs to claim it as income.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Jul 03, 2012 from Amesbury, MA

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Yes, alimony is tax deductible. However, if any amount can be construed as child support, then that amount is not deductible. I suggest you consult with a CPA to be sure you're fling your return correctly.

Comment   |  Flag   |  Mar 02, 2012 from San Diego, CA

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