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The tax deadline draws near: Alimony, child support and the 1040

Every year about this time, one thing is evident from the piles of paperwork and assorted documents scattered across the desks and tables of scores of millions of Americans: Once again, it's tax time, with that mid-April deadline inching closer every day.

Some people escape in minutes, with a 1040 EZ. Others takes weeks, with an accountant and other professionals needed to wade through a host of tax-related complexities.

As anyone who has ever filed taxes well knows, potentially hundreds of things can affect the bottom line on a return.

Following a divorce, alimony is one of those. We have mentioned alimony in prior blog posts, describing Georgia's statutory perspective on this remedy and the judicial discretion that state judges have over the matter (please see our January 31 blog post). We have briefly mentioned its tax implications in past communications to our readers.

It might be useful this time of year to quickly visit alimony and the Tax Code. Alimony treatment on a 1040 return is typically not complex, but there are definitely a few things to keep in mind, as follows:

  • For a person to deduct alimony on line 31a of that form, there must have been a divorce or separation order
  • With limited exceptions, the payer and payee cannot be living together
  • If a joint tax return is being filed, alimony cannot be claimed
  • Voluntary payments are not alimony, which must be paid pursuant to an official agreement requiring payment

Also, tax experts remind filers that alimony and child support payments are always distinct: Support payments cannot -- ever -- be deducted as alimony.

Given our federal system, there are distinct differences in how states approach family law and taxes. That in turn can have an effect on federal taxes. An experienced Georgia divorce attorney can answer questions and otherwise help persons with questions or concerns regarding alimony, child support and other tax-related matters.

Source: Forbes, "Taxes from A to Z: A is for alimony," March 3, 2012

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