Articles Posted in Alimony Tax

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It is tempting to lump child support and post separation support/alimony into a bucket of one dollar amount, sometimes referred to as “family support”.  This is particularly tempting in the early part of a case, but it is DANGEROUS.  A couple of tax rules will help:

Rule 1:  Don’t create family support as a way to get 100 percent of support as an alimony deduction as this really doesn’t work.

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North Carolina alimony statutes and state case law make technicalities on the “death” element of alimony under federal tax law difficult, and one needs to exercise extreme care when drafting a private alimony agreement or contract in North Carolina.

Unlike many states, all alimony awards in North Carolina are not court orders.  For legitimate strategic reasons, alimony awards are frequently private contracts in North Carolina.  Generally, one cannot modify a contractual award of alimony, but court orders for alimony may be modifiable upon a change in circumstances.  That scares many payors in North Carolina, so they negotiate for a private contract.

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          Schilling v. Comm’r, T.C. Memo. 2012‑256, 2012 WL 3848477 (2012)

(a) Facts: The parties settled their divorce case by signing a separation agreement. The agreement awarded the wife $2,450 per month on spousal support for six years.  It, further, provided that the wife’s spousal support would drop by specified amounts when each of their three remaining minor children reached age 18 or left home for college, whichever occurred first.  Finally, the agreement provided that the husband would pay no child support, justifying this downward deviation from the child support guidelines by pointing to the spousal support provision. The agreement was incorporated into an Ohio divorce decree.

The husband paid support as required.  On her federal tax returns, the wife reported no alimony income.  The IRS determined that the total amount of the payments, minus the total reductions upon emancipation of the children, was actually alimony, and therefore should have been reported as income.  It, therefore, assessed a deficiency.  The wife appealed to the Tax Court. Continue reading →