1997 Tax Help Archives  

Alimony Paid

This is archived information that pertains only to the 1997 Tax Year. If you
are looking for information for the current tax year, go to the Tax Prep Help Area.

If you are divorced or separated, you may be able to deduct the alimony or separate maintenance payments that you are required to make to your spouse or former spouse, or on behalf of that spouse. This topic covers alimony under decrees or agreements after 1984. It explains what is deductible if you pay alimony, and what is taxable if you receive alimony.

Alimony payments you make under a decree or written agreement are deductible if all of the following requirements are met:

  1. You pay in cash (including checks or money orders),
  2. The decree or agreement does not designate that the payment is not alimony,
  3. If divorced or legally separated, you and your former spouse are not members of the same household when you make the payment,
  4. You have no liability to make any payment (in cash or property) after the death of your spouse or your former spouse; and
  5. Your payment is not treated as child support.

Child support is never deductible. If your decree or agreement calls for alimony and child support, and you pay less than the total required, the payments apply first to child support. Any remaining amount is then considered alimony.

Property settlements, whether in a lump sum or installments, even though required by the decree or agreement, do not qualify as alimony. Any payments not required by the decree or agreement do not qualify as alimony.

You do not have to itemize deductions to claim your alimony payments. You may claim the deduction on line 29 of Form 1040. You must provide the social security number of the spouse or former spouse receiving the payments. If you don't, you may have to pay a $50 penalty and your deduction may be disallowed.

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 penalty.

More information on alimony, including rules for divorces and separations before 1985, is available in Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals. You can order this publication by calling 1-800-829-3676.

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