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Wheaton divorce lawyer taxes spousal maintenanceWith the IRS tax filing deadline coming up later this month, it is time for recently divorced or soon-to-be divorcing spouses to become acquainted with the tax implications of divorce. While child support payments do not have any tax implications (that is, they are not tax-deductible for the paying parent, and they are not considered taxable income for the receiving parent), spousal maintenance (alimony) payments do. Whether you are paying or receiving spousal maintenance in Illinois, you need to account for it on your taxes.

Spousal Maintenance Is Tax Deductible for the Payor

If you are currently paying spousal maintenance to your ex-spouse, know that these support payments are tax deductible. As such, you may end up being required to pay less taxes than expected. Awareness of such positive tax implications should allow you to better plan your finances, whether you are budgeting in the short-term or saving and investing for the long-term.

Spousal Maintenance Is Taxable Income for the Recipient

If you are currently receiving spousal maintenance from your ex-spouse, know that the support payments constitute taxable income. Because of this, you may end up being required to pay more taxes than expected. Anticipating and accounting for this reality well in advance of the tax filing deadline can help you budget and plan your finances as so to avoid experiencing unexpected and stressful monetary burdens at tax time.

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Winfield divorce attorneyDivorce is a state law issue. This is a simple but important distinction to keep in mind when going through divorce in the state of Illinois, as the legal guidelines concerning spousal maintenance and property division may prove different than what you have may have heard about how divorce works under legal frameworks utilized by other states (e.g., California’s “community property” model). 

Illinois Uses a Unique and Evolving Set of Terminology in Matters of Divorce

In Illinois, “spousal maintenance” is the official terminology for what is elsewhere referred to as “alimony” or “spousal support.” This somewhat abstracted language pairs with that used by the state with regard to child custody (“allocation of parental responsibility”), asset division (“equitable distribution”), and even the terms concerning the state’s position regarding the issue of fault in the dissolution of a marriage (“irreconcilable differences”). 

Maddeningly, the closer you investigate the state’s divorce lexicon, the more circular or abstracted it becomes. “Equitable distribution” does not necessarily translate to “equal,” but rather to “fair and equitable.” “Permanent maintenance” has been reframed as “maintenance for an indefinite term,” though the duration, once determined, may for all practical purposes prove permanent. Divorce is hard enough on former spouses and any children they have, so the state’s arguably confusing language concerning the end of a marriage may seem downright inhumane. 

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West Chicago divorce tax consequences lawyerJust as the legal formalization of a marriage has tax-related consequences, so does its dissolution. If you have recently divorced or are in the process of divorce, it is important that you understand and prepare for the tax-related consequences of the decisions made regarding spousal support, the allocation of parental responsibility, and the division of the marriage’s assets. In the interest of avoiding serious financial hardships, it is imperative that these issues are dealt with as early as possible. 

Child Support and Spousal Support Are Primary Tax-Related Issues Following Divorce 

Currently, child support payments and spousal support payments are taxed differently. Spousal support (sometimes termed “maintenance” or “alimony”) is tax-deductible for the payor and is classified as taxable income for the recipient, while child support is not tax-deductible for the paying parent or taxable for the receiving parent. In some cases, it possible for divorced spouses to reach what is termed an “unallocated support arrangement” in which child support and spousal support are not differentiated into separated payments. Rather, they are combined into one fully tax-deductible/taxable payment – a beneficial simplification in instances, for example, in which one spouse earns the bulk of the income and the other spouse has been and will continue to be a stay-at-home parent. 

Following the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the way child support and spousal support payments are taxed will be changing significantly. Beginning January 1, 2019, spousal support will no longer be tax-deductible for the payor or taxable for the recipient. Divorcing spouses should be aware of how their tax obligations will affect the support they pay or receive, and they may wish to finalize their divorce prior to this change in order to take advantage of the current law’s tax benefits. 

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