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I receive alimony, do I have to report it to the IRS?

Broadly speaking, alimony must be reported as income when a federal tax return form is filed with the IRS, regardless of whether the payment is made as a result of divorce proceedings or under a separate maintenance decree. Payments made under a written separation agreement between former spouses also falls into this category and must be reported as income to the IRS.

There are a number of other criteria that must also be satisfied in order for these payments to be considered some form of alimony, and hence be considered reportable income that must be declared when filing federal tax forms.

First, the payer and the recipient must not be living together in the same household. This rule applies to payments that are made between couples who have been legally separated under a decree of divorce. It also applies to payments made under a separation decree.

The couple cannot file their income taxes jointly. If they are filing jointly, then legally, any payments made between them cannot be treated as alimony. Payments in property other than money are not considered alimony.

The recipient of the payment must be a current or former spouse. This also applies if the payments are received on behalf of a current or former spouse. If the divorce or separate maintenance decree does not explicitly state that the payment is not alimony then it must be reported to the IRS. This applies to a written separation agreement as well. If the payment is not part of a property settlement, or designated as child support, and there is no legal liability if payments are discontinued in the event that the recipient passes away, then it must be reported as alimony and taxed appropriately.

Source: IRS, "Topic 452 - Alimony Paid," Accessed November 18, 2014

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