Monday, January 12, 2009

Alimony bed buffaloes

Bed Buffalo #1: Alimony Paid and Alimony Received

Be very careful to differentiate between alimony paid and alimony received.

Alimony PAID is a tax break, an above-the-line deduction or "Adjustment to Gross Income" reported on line 31a of Form 1040 that reduces AGI and taxable income on the tax return of the person who paid it.

Alimony RECEIVED is taxable income reportable on line 11 of the Form 1040, which increases the AGI of the person who paid it.

Bed Buffalo #2: Alimony vs. Child Support

Be very careful to differentiate between alimony and child support. Many people (wrongly!) use the two terms interchangeably, but they are quite distinct concepts and they get very different tax treatment. Unlike alimony, child support is NOT deductible to the payer NOR is it taxable income for the recipient.

Although child support payments are very common among divorced parents, alimony is MUCH LESS COMMON, so you should be very careful before reaching the conclusion that a taxpayer should report alimony paid or received on a tax return. Page E-1 of your Volunteer Resource Guide offers some help on this topic.

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