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