Alimony, Child Support and Income Taxes

Before tax season fades out of sight and out of mind, it is worth a refresher (or primer) on tax treatment of two of the most common types of payments required in a divorce settlement:

  • Child Support – Child support is not deductible by the parent paying it, nor is it taxable income to the parent receiving it.

  • Alimony – Alimony (or spousal support), however, is a different tax story. Alimony is generally deductible by the spouse paying it and taxable income to the spouse receiving it. According to a California CPA, it should be noted that alimony is not deductible for the period that the spouses live in the same residence. That California CPA also highlights that, for income tax purposes, support payments are applied first to child support, until it is paid in full, and only then to spousal support. So, if the paying spouse is behind in their payments, they will not get a tax benefit for characterizing payments as alimony when child support is not fully paid.

Read more in this Merced [CA] Sun-Star article: David Bruner, The Tax Man: Alimony, child support.