The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act “TCJA” has a definite effect on alimony payments. Prior to the new law, alimony payments could be deducted by the payer for federal income tax purposes and recipients had to report the payments as taxable income. Any divorces finalized before December 31, 2018 will continue under the old tax law. Any divorces finalized after December 32, 2018 apply under the TCJA eliminates the deduction for alimony payments and recipients no longer have to include them as taxable income. In addition, any modification of alimony payments after December 31, 2018 shall be affected by the TCJA if the modification specifically states that the TCJA applies; meaning if the TCJA is ordered applicable by the Court.
Pre-2019 divorce orders for alimony still qualify under the old federal income tax law for a deduction benefit without having to itemize if all requirements are met. Requirements include: 1) a written document is required the alimony payment; 2) payment must be to or on behalf of a spouse or ex-spouse; 3) the divorce decree or separation document cannot state the payment is not alimony; 4) ex-spouses cannot live in the same household or file jointly; 5) a payment must be made in cash or by cash equivalent; 6) cannot be deemed to be child support; 7) the taxpayer’s social security number must be included on the tax return; 8) the obligation to make payments ceases upon the recipient’s death. See IRS Tax Topic No. 452.
Depending on your situation, you need to speak with an experienced Jacksonville family law attorney now. If you will be making alimony payments, it is in your best interest to get a divorce wrapped up before December 31, 2018 so payments will be deductible. If you will be receiving payments, it is in your best interest to put off finalizing your divorce until next year, so the payments will be tax free to you. Contact the Law Office of David M. Goldman, PLLC for a consultation.