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Alimony and Taxes

Reporting Alimony on Form 1040

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Alimony is taxable income for the recipient and is a tax deduction for the payer. The recipient reports alimony received on Form 1040 Line 11. The person who pays alimony reports this amount as a deduction on Form 1040 Line 31.

Reporting Alimony Received

Report the full amount of alimony or separate maintenance you received during the year. Do not report any amounts received for child support. Child support is non-taxable income, and is not reported on your federal tax return. Your ex-spouse must report alimony paid along with your Social Security Number to the IRS.

What If I Don't Report Alimony on My Taxes?

Failing to report alimony on your tax return will very likely result in an IRS audit. Since alimony paid is a tax deduction for the person paying you the alimony, it is highly probable that the IRS will find out how much alimony you received, and audit your tax return.

According to the IRS, "If you are the spouse or former spouse who is receiving the alimony, you must report the full amount as income on line 11 of Form 1040. If you do not give your social security number to your spouse or former spouse who is making the alimony payments, you may have to pay a $50 penalty."

Reporting Alimony Paid

If you paid alimony or separate maintenance to your ex-spouse, report the total amount of alimony you paid during the year on Form 1040 Line 31. Do not include any child support payments in this figure. Child support is not tax-deductible and is not reported on your federal tax return. You must report your ex-spouse's Social Security Number on Line 31b, and the amount of alimony on line 31a.

Criteria for Being Able to Deduct Alimony Payments

Alimony is tax deductible as long as you meet the following six requirements:
  1. You and your spouse or former spouse do not file a joint return with each other,
  2. You pay in cash (including checks or money orders),
  3. The divorce or separation instrument does not say that the payment is not alimony,
  4. If legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, you and your former spouse are not members of the same household when you make the payment,
  5. You have no liability to make any payment (in cash or property) after the death of your spouse or former spouse; and
  6. Your payment is not treated as child support.
    Source: IRS Tax Topic 452, Alimony Paid.
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