Are Spousal Support Payments Tax Deductible?

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Divorce and taxes… These two often intertwine, particularly when it comes to determining what is able to be written off during and after a divorce and what is not.

Do Spousal Support Payments Qualify for a Tax Deduction?

California law requires alimony payments, also known as spousal support payments, to be reported as income by the recipient. This means that the person who pays alimony may take a deduction for these payments.

Spousal support payments to your ex may be tax-deductible if they meet certain criteria, including:

  1. Payments are made in cash. Checks are included as cash.
  2. The payment must be received by (or on behalf of) a spouse or former spouse.
  3. The payments must be made under a divorce or separation instrument.
  4. The instrument does not designate payments as non-taxable to the recipient or not allowable as a deduction to the payor.
  5. The parties must not be members of the same household when payment is made, except for temporary support orders.
  6. There is no liability to make payments after the death of the supported spouse, or make any payments as a substitute. The goal is to distinguish between true spousal support orders and a property division disguised as support.
  7. The payments may not be fixed as child support or subject to a contingency related to a minor child. Payments specifically designated as child support are, of course, not deductible as alimony.
  8. A joint return is not filed.

What types of payments do NOT qualify as alimony?

Certain types of support payments do not qualify as alimony in California. These include:

  • Property settlement payments, even if required by the divorce decree or other written instrument or agreement.
  • Retirement benefits that the other spouse is entitled to receive are actually from community property.
  • Any voluntary payments made before they are required by a divorce decree or agreement.
  • Child support payments.

For more information on tax issues relating to spousal support, contact the expert Los Angeles family lawyers at Walzer Melcher LLP today.