Reporting Alimony and Child Support
After a divorce, it’s common to forget that alimony and child support will affect your taxes. Here’s how.
When you pay alimony, the payments are deducted from your taxable income, lowering your tax liability. But you still have to meet certain requirements:
- The payment must be by cash, check or money order.
- You and your spouse can’t live in the same home.
- You can’t count payments made after your ex dies or remarries, since you’re not obligated to pay those.
- The payment cannot be for child support.
If you receive alimony, you must report the payments as income on your taxes. And you have to give your ex-spouse your SSN, so that he or she can claim the payments on their taxes. Your ex can probably get your SSN from a prior tax return, but if he or she doesn’t have your SSN and can’t get it from you, the IRS can fine you $50.
When you do your taxes with 1040.com, report alimony received on our 1040 – Income Section screen, line 11. Report alimony paid on our 1040 – Adjustments Section screen, line 31.
Child support payments don’t affect your taxes as much as alimony does:
- If you pay child support, you can’t deduct the payments from your taxable income. You just report your income normally, and don’t decrease it by the amount of your support payments.
- If you receive child support, you don’t include the amount in your taxable income. You also can't count child support as earned income to qualify you for the Earned Income Credit.
In either case, you do not report child support on your taxes.
If you pay child support, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Even though you get no tax break for the support payments, the fact that you are making payments means you at least partly support the child, so you may be able to claim the child as a dependent.