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Free efile 18. Free efile   Alimony Table of Contents IntroductionSpouse or former spouse. Free efile Divorce or separation instrument. Free efile Useful Items - You may want to see: General RulesMortgage payments. Free efile Taxes and insurance. Free efile Other payments to a third party. Free efile Instruments Executed After 1984Payments to a third party. Free efile Exception. Free efile Substitute payments. Free efile Specifically designated as child support. Free efile Contingency relating to your child. Free efile Clearly associated with a contingency. Free efile How To Deduct Alimony Paid How To Report Alimony Received Recapture Rule Introduction This chapter discusses the rules that apply if you pay or receive alimony. Free efile It covers the following topics. Free efile What payments are alimony. Free efile What payments are not alimony, such as child support. Free efile How to deduct alimony you paid. Free efile How to report alimony you received as income. Free efile Whether you must recapture the tax benefits of alimony. Free efile Recapture means adding back in your income all or part of a deduction you took in a prior year. Free efile Alimony is a payment to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation instrument. Free efile It does not include voluntary payments that are not made under a divorce or separation instrument. Free efile Alimony is deductible by the payer and must be included in the spouse's or former spouse's income. Free efile Although this chapter is generally written for the payer of the alimony, the recipient can use the information to determine whether an amount received is alimony. Free efile To be alimony, a payment must meet certain requirements. Free efile Different requirements generally apply to payments under instruments executed after 1984 and to payments under instruments executed before 1985. Free efile This chapter discusses the rules for payments under instruments executed after 1984. Free efile If you need the rules for payments under pre-1985 instruments, get and keep a copy of the 2004 version of Publication 504. Free efile That was the last year the information on pre-1985 instruments was included in Publication 504. Free efile Use Table 18-1 in this chapter as a guide to determine whether certain payments are considered alimony. Free efile Definitions. Free efile   The following definitions apply throughout this chapter. Free efile Spouse or former spouse. Free efile   Unless otherwise stated, the term “spouse” includes former spouse. Free efile Divorce or separation instrument. Free efile   The term “divorce or separation instrument” means: A decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a written instrument incident to that decree, A written separation agreement, or A decree or any type of court order requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse. Free efile This includes a temporary decree, an interlocutory (not final) decree, and a decree of alimony pendente lite (while awaiting action on the final decree or agreement). Free efile Useful Items - You may want to see: Publication 504 Divorced or Separated Individuals General Rules The following rules apply to alimony regardless of when the divorce or separation instrument was executed. Free efile Payments not alimony. Free efile   Not all payments under a divorce or separation instrument are alimony. Free efile Alimony does not include: Child support, Noncash property settlements, Payments that are your spouse's part of community income, as explained under Community Property in Publication 504, Payments to keep up the payer's property, or Use of the payer's property. Free efile Payments to a third party. Free efile   Cash payments, checks, or money orders to a third party on behalf of your spouse under the terms of your divorce or separation instrument can be alimony, if they otherwise qualify. Free efile These include payments for your spouse's medical expenses, housing costs (rent, utilities, etc. Free efile ), taxes, tuition, etc. Free efile The payments are treated as received by your spouse and then paid to the third party. Free efile Life insurance premiums. Free efile   Alimony includes premiums you must pay under your divorce or separation instrument for insurance on your life to the extent your spouse owns the policy. Free efile Payments for jointly-owned home. Free efile   If your divorce or separation instrument states that you must pay expenses for a home owned by you and your spouse, some of your payments may be alimony. Free efile Mortgage payments. Free efile   If you must pay all the mortgage payments (principal and interest) on a jointly-owned home, and they otherwise qualify as alimony, you can deduct one-half of the total payments as alimony. Free efile If you itemize deductions and the home is a qualified home, you can claim one-half of the interest in figuring your deductible interest. Free efile Your spouse must report one-half of the payments as alimony received. Free efile If your spouse itemizes deductions and the home is a qualified home, he or she can claim one-half of the interest on the mortgage in figuring deductible interest. Free efile Taxes and insurance. Free efile   If you must pay all the real estate taxes or insurance on a home held as tenants in common, you can deduct one-half of these payments as alimony. Free efile Your spouse must report one-half of these payments as alimony received. Free efile If you and your spouse itemize deductions, you can each claim one-half of the real estate taxes and none of the home insurance. Free efile    If your home is held as tenants by the entirety or joint tenants, none of your payments for taxes or insurance are alimony. Free efile But if you itemize deductions, you can claim all of the real estate taxes and none of the home insurance. Free efile Other payments to a third party. Free efile   If you made other third-party payments, see Publication 504 to see whether any part of the payments qualifies as alimony. Free efile Instruments Executed After 1984 The following rules for alimony apply to payments under divorce or separation instruments executed after 1984. Free efile Exception for instruments executed before 1985. Free efile   There are two situations where the rules for instruments executed after 1984 apply to instruments executed before 1985. Free efile A divorce or separation instrument executed before 1985 and then modified after 1984 to specify that the after-1984 rules will apply. Free efile A temporary divorce or separation instrument executed before 1985 and incorporated into, or adopted by, a final decree executed after 1984 that: Changes the amount or period of payment, or Adds or deletes any contingency or condition. Free efile   For the rules for alimony payments under pre-1985 instruments not meeting these exceptions, get the 2004 version of Publication 504 at www. Free efile irs. Free efile gov/pub504. Free efile Example 1. Free efile In November 1984, you and your former spouse executed a written separation agreement. Free efile In February 1985, a decree of divorce was substituted for the written separation agreement. Free efile The decree of divorce did not change the terms for the alimony you pay your former spouse. Free efile The decree of divorce is treated as executed before 1985. Free efile Alimony payments under this decree are not subject to the rules for payments under instruments executed after 1984. Free efile Example 2. Free efile Assume the same facts as in Example 1 except that the decree of divorce changed the amount of the alimony. Free efile In this example, the decree of divorce is not treated as executed before 1985. Free efile The alimony payments are subject to the rules for payments under instruments executed after 1984. Free efile Alimony requirements. Free efile   A payment to or for a spouse under a divorce or separation instrument is alimony if the spouses do not file a joint return with each other and all the following requirements are met. Free efile The payment is in cash. Free efile The instrument does not designate the payment as not alimony. Free efile Spouses legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance are not members of the same household. Free efile There is no liability to make any payment (in cash or property) after the death of the recipient spouse. Free efile The payment is not treated as child support. Free efile Each of these requirements is discussed below. Free efile Cash payment requirement. Free efile   Only cash payments, including checks and money orders, qualify as alimony. Free efile The following do not qualify as alimony. Free efile Transfers of services or property (including a debt instrument of a third party or an annuity contract). Free efile Execution of a debt instrument by the payer. Free efile The use of the payer's property. Free efile Payments to a third party. Free efile   Cash payments to a third party under the terms of your divorce or separation instrument can qualify as cash payments to your spouse. Free efile See Payments to a third party under General Rules, earlier. Free efile   Also, cash payments made to a third party at the written request of your spouse may qualify as alimony if all the following requirements are met. Free efile The payments are in lieu of payments of alimony directly to your spouse. Free efile The written request states that both spouses intend the payments to be treated as alimony. Free efile You receive the written request from your spouse before you file your return for the year you made the payments. Free efile Payments designated as not alimony. Free efile   You and your spouse can designate that otherwise qualifying payments are not alimony. Free efile You do this by including a provision in your divorce or separation instrument that states the payments are not deductible as alimony by you and are excludable from your spouse's income. Free efile For this purpose, any instrument (written statement) signed by both of you that makes this designation and that refers to a previous written separation agreement is treated as a written separation agreement (and therefore a divorce or separation instrument). Free efile If you are subject to temporary support orders, the designation must be made in the original or a later temporary support order. Free efile   Your spouse can exclude the payments from income only if he or she attaches a copy of the instrument designating them as not alimony to his or her return. Free efile The copy must be attached each year the designation applies. Free efile Spouses cannot be members of the same household. Free efile    Payments to your spouse while you are members of the same household are not alimony if you are legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance. Free efile A home you formerly shared is considered one household, even if you physically separate yourselves in the home. Free efile   You are not treated as members of the same household if one of you is preparing to leave the household and does leave no later than 1 month after the date of the payment. Free efile Exception. Free efile   If you are not legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance, a payment under a written separation agreement, support decree, or other court order may qualify as alimony even if you are members of the same household when the payment is made. Free efile Table 18-1. Free efile Alimony Requirements (Instruments Executed After 1984) Payments ARE alimony if all of the following are true: Payments are NOT alimony if any of the following are true: Payments are required by a divorce or separation instrument. Free efile Payments are not required by a divorce or separation instrument. Free efile Payer and recipient spouse do not file a joint return with each other. Free efile Payer and recipient spouse file a joint return with each other. Free efile Payment is in cash (including checks or money orders). Free efile Payment is: Not in cash, A noncash property settlement, Spouse's part of community income, or To keep up the payer's property. Free efile Payment is not designated in the instrument as not alimony. Free efile Payment is designated in the instrument as not alimony. Free efile Spouses legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance are not members of the same household. Free efile Spouses legally separated under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance are members of the same household. Free efile Payments are not required after death of the recipient spouse. Free efile Payments are required after death of the recipient spouse. Free efile Payment is not treated as child support. Free efile Payment is treated as child support. Free efile These payments are deductible by the payer and includible in income by the recipient. Free efile These payments are neither deductible by the payer nor includible in income by the recipient. Free efile Liability for payments after death of recipient spouse. Free efile   If any part of payments you make must continue to be made for any period after your spouse's death, that part of your payments is not alimony, whether made before or after the death. Free efile If all of the payments would continue, then none of the payments made before or after the death are alimony. Free efile   The divorce or separation instrument does not have to expressly state that the payments cease upon the death of your spouse if, for example, the liability for continued payments would end under state law. Free efile Example. Free efile You must pay your former spouse $10,000 in cash each year for 10 years. Free efile Your divorce decree states that the payments will end upon your former spouse's death. Free efile You must also pay your former spouse or your former spouse's estate $20,000 in cash each year for 10 years. Free efile The death of your spouse would not terminate these payments under state law. Free efile The $10,000 annual payments may qualify as alimony. Free efile The $20,000 annual payments that do not end upon your former spouse's death are not alimony. Free efile Substitute payments. Free efile   If you must make any payments in cash or property after your spouse's death as a substitute for continuing otherwise qualifying payments before the death, the otherwise qualifying payments are not alimony. Free efile To the extent that your payments begin, accelerate, or increase because of the death of your spouse, otherwise qualifying payments you made may be treated as payments that were not alimony. Free efile Whether or not such payments will be treated as not alimony depends on all the facts and circumstances. Free efile Example 1. Free efile Under your divorce decree, you must pay your former spouse $30,000 annually. Free efile The payments will stop at the end of 6 years or upon your former spouse's death, if earlier. Free efile Your former spouse has custody of your minor children. Free efile The decree provides that if any child is still a minor at your spouse's death, you must pay $10,000 annually to a trust until the youngest child reaches the age of majority. Free efile The trust income and corpus (principal) are to be used for your children's benefit. Free efile These facts indicate that the payments to be made after your former spouse's death are a substitute for $10,000 of the $30,000 annual payments. Free efile Of each of the $30,000 annual payments, $10,000 is not alimony. Free efile Example 2. Free efile Under your divorce decree, you must pay your former spouse $30,000 annually. Free efile The payments will stop at the end of 15 years or upon your former spouse's death, if earlier. Free efile The decree provides that if your former spouse dies before the end of the 15-year period, you must pay the estate the difference between $450,000 ($30,000 × 15) and the total amount paid up to that time. Free efile For example, if your spouse dies at the end of the tenth year, you must pay the estate $150,000 ($450,000 − $300,000). Free efile These facts indicate that the lump-sum payment to be made after your former spouse's death is a substitute for the full amount of the $30,000 annual payments. Free efile None of the annual payments are alimony. Free efile The result would be the same if the payment required at death were to be discounted by an appropriate interest factor to account for the prepayment. Free efile Child support. Free efile   A payment that is specifically designated as child support or treated as specifically designated as child support under your divorce or separation instrument is not alimony. Free efile The amount of child support may vary over time. Free efile Child support payments are not deductible by the payer and are not taxable to the recipient. Free efile Specifically designated as child support. Free efile   A payment will be treated as specifically designated as child support to the extent that the payment is reduced either: On the happening of a contingency relating to your child, or At a time that can be clearly associated with the contingency. Free efile A payment may be treated as specifically designated as child support even if other separate payments are specifically designated as child support. Free efile Contingency relating to your child. Free efile   A contingency relates to your child if it depends on any event relating to that child. Free efile It does not matter whether the event is certain or likely to occur. Free efile Events relating to your child include the child's: Becoming employed, Dying, Leaving the household, Leaving school, Marrying, or Reaching a specified age or income level. Free efile Clearly associated with a contingency. Free efile   Payments that would otherwise qualify as alimony are presumed to be reduced at a time clearly associated with the happening of a contingency relating to your child only in the following situations. Free efile The payments are to be reduced not more than 6 months before or after the date the child will reach 18, 21, or local age of majority. Free efile The payments are to be reduced on two or more occasions that occur not more than 1 year before or after a different one of your children reaches a certain age from 18 to 24. Free efile This certain age must be the same for each child, but need not be a whole number of years. Free efile In all other situations, reductions in payments are not treated as clearly associated with the happening of a contingency relating to your child. Free efile   Either you or the IRS can overcome the presumption in the two situations above. Free efile This is done by showing that the time at which the payments are to be reduced was determined independently of any contingencies relating to your children. Free efile For example, if you can show that the period of alimony payments is customary in the local jurisdiction, such as a period equal to one-half of the duration of the marriage, you can overcome the presumption and may be able to treat the amount as alimony. Free efile How To Deduct Alimony Paid You can deduct alimony you paid, whether or not you itemize deductions on your return. Free efile You must file Form 1040. Free efile You cannot use Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ. Free efile Enter the amount of alimony you paid on Form 1040, line 31a. Free efile In the space provided on line 31b, enter your spouse's social security number (SSN) or individual taxpayer identification number (ITIN). Free efile If you paid alimony to more than one person, enter the SSN or ITIN of one of the recipients. Free efile Show the SSN or ITIN and amount paid to each other recipient on an attached statement. Free efile Enter your total payments on line 31a. Free efile You must provide your spouse's SSN or ITIN. Free efile If you do not, you may have to pay a $50 penalty and your deduction may be disallowed. Free efile For more information on SSNs and ITINs, see Social Security Number (SSN) in chapter 1. Free efile How To Report Alimony Received Report alimony you received as income on Form 1040, line 11. Free efile You cannot use Form 1040A or Form 1040EZ. Free efile You must give the person who paid the alimony your SSN or ITIN. Free efile If you do not, you may have to pay a $50 penalty. Free efile Recapture Rule If your alimony payments decrease or end during the first 3 calendar years, you may be subject to the recapture rule. Free efile If you are subject to this rule, you have to include in income in the third year part of the alimony payments you previously deducted. Free efile Your spouse can deduct in the third year part of the alimony payments he or she previously included in income. Free efile The 3-year period starts with the first calendar year you make a payment qualifying as alimony under a decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a written separation agreement. Free efile Do not include any time in which payments were being made under temporary support orders. Free efile The second and third years are the next 2 calendar years, whether or not payments are made during those years. Free efile The reasons for a reduction or end of alimony payments that can require a recapture include: A change in your divorce or separation instrument, A failure to make timely payments, A reduction in your ability to provide support, or A reduction in your spouse's support needs. Free efile When to apply the recapture rule. Free efile   You are subject to the recapture rule in the third year if the alimony you pay in the third year decreases by more than $15,000 from the second year or the alimony you pay in the second and third years decreases significantly from the alimony you pay in the first year. Free efile   When you figure a decrease in alimony, do not include the following amounts. Free efile Payments made under a temporary support order. Free efile Payments required over a period of at least 3 calendar years that vary because they are a fixed part of your income from a business or property, or from compensation for employment or self-employment. Free efile Payments that decrease because of the death of either spouse or the remarriage of the spouse receiving the payments before the end of the third year. Free efile Figuring the recapture. Free efile   You can use Worksheet 1 in Publication 504 to figure recaptured alimony. Free efile Including the recapture in income. Free efile   If you must include a recapture amount in income, show it on Form 1040, line 11 (“Alimony received”). Free efile Cross out “received” and enter “recapture. Free efile ” On the dotted line next to the amount, enter your spouse's last name and SSN or ITIN. Free efile Deducting the recapture. Free efile   If you can deduct a recapture amount, show it on Form 1040, line 31a (“Alimony paid”). Free efile Cross out “paid” and enter “recapture. Free efile ” In the space provided, enter your spouse's SSN or ITIN. Free efile Prev  Up  Next   Home   More Online Publications
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Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 14-Mar-2014

The Free Efile

Free efile Index A Advance EIC tables, instructions, Advance Payment Methods for the Earned Income Credit (EIC) Aliens, nonresident, Withholding Income Taxes on the Wages of Nonresident Alien Employees Alternative methods of withholding, Alternative Methods for Figuring Withholding C Combined income tax, employee social security tax, and employee Medicare tax withholding tables, Combined Income Tax, Employee Social Security Tax, and Employee Medicare Tax Withholding Tables F Formula tables for percentage method withholding (for automated payroll systems), Formula Tables for Percentage Method Withholding (for Automated Payroll Systems) I Introduction, Introduction N Nonresident alien employees, Withholding Income Taxes on the Wages of Nonresident Alien Employees Notice to employers, Notice to Employers Q Qualified transportation benefits Commuter highway vehicle transportation, Increased Exclusion Amount for Combined Commuter Highway Vehicle Transportation and Transit Passes Transit passes, Increased Exclusion Amount for Combined Commuter Highway Vehicle Transportation and Transit Passes W Wage bracket percentage method tables (for automated payroll systems), Wage Bracket Percentage Method Tables (for Automated Payroll Systems) Withholding income taxes on wages Nonresident alien employees, Withholding Income Taxes on the Wages of Nonresident Alien Employees Withholding: Alternative methods, Alternative Methods for Figuring Withholding Percentage method, Percentage Method Wage bracket method, Wage Bracket Method Prev  Up     Home   More Online Publications