With the end of the year coming soon, it is normal to consider taxes. One question I often get is whether or not spousal maintenance is tax deductible. The answer now is no.
If this sounds incorrect to you, that's because there were recent changes to the tax law. If you had a spousal maintenance award issued prior to January 1, 2019 your spousal maintenance payments are tax deductible to the payer and included as income to the receiving spouse. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act eliminated the ability to deduct spousal maintenance payments and the tax applied to spousal maintenance payments received for any spousal maintenance award post January 1, 2019.
If you had a spousal maintenance order prior to December 31. 2018, and you modified the award after January 1. 2019, the tax treatment will remain deductible unless expressly included in the new agreement/order that the parties will no longer be able to claim the deduction.
Similarly, I often get asked whether child support is taxed or tax deductible. The answer to this is also no. The child support payments are neither taxed to the receiving parent nor tax deductible to the parent paying support. Child support is considered “tax neutral”. Essentially, the IRS treats child support as a direct expense paid for the child that should not be taxed in a manner divergent from how married parents are able to fund child expenses without tax penalty.
Jason Castle is a family lawyer who specializes in high-conflict cases. He's also a former prosecutor & social worker. Hear his latest divorce thoughts!