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What are the tax implications of paying alimony?

How to handle alimony payments can be a tricky subject in Florida. Many people do not realize that since they are technically income, they must be accounted for by the recipient when income taxes are filed. That works both ways, however. The person making alimony payments can deduct them and thus lower their taxable income when filing their taxes.

Still, there are specific requirements that need to be met before one can deduct alimony payments when they file for their income taxes. The first condition is that the person receiving the alimony payments must file their taxes separately from the payer. If both the payer and receiver file taxes jointly then the payer may not deduct any alimony payments that they made to their spouse or former spouse.

Second stipulation is that the payments have to be made in cash, which also includes any alimony payments that are paid by check or money orders. In conjunction with that, the separation or divorce decree must not explicitly state that the payment is not alimony.

Both the payer and the receiver of any alimony payments must not reside in the same household. If they do, then any alimony payments rendered cannot be deducted on the payer's income taxes. Also, the payer must not be liable for any payments to the alimony receiver in any form whether it be cash or in the form of property in the event that the spouse or former spouse passes away. In such a case the payments cannot be legally treated as alimony since alimony payments only apply to a living spouse or former spouse.

Finally, the payment is not considered child support, because child support payments can never legally be deducted on a payer's income tax. If an income tax filer's divorce or separation decree legally binds them to pay both alimony and child support, and they end up paying less than the sum of both payments, then any payments rendered must be applied first to child support. If the child support portion of the decree is covered then any excess from the payments made can then be applied towards the alimony payment and therefore be deducted on the payer's income tax form.

Source: Findlaw, "Alimony and taxes," accessed September 9, 2014

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