This chapter discusses the rules that apply if you pay or receive alimony. It covers the following topics:
- What payments are alimony,
- What payments are not alimony, such as child support,
- How to deduct alimony you paid,
- How to report alimony income you received, and
- Whether you must recapture the tax benefits of alimony. Recapture means adding back in your income all or part of a deduction you took in a prior year.
Alimony is a payment to or for a spouse or former spouse under a divorce or separation instrument. It does not include voluntary payments that are not made under a divorce or separation instrument.
Alimony is deductible by the payer and must be included by the spouse or former spouse in his or her income. 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.
To be alimony, a payment must meet certain requirements. Different requirements apply to payments under instruments executed after 1984 and to payments under instruments executed before 1985. This chapter discusses the rules for payments under instruments executed after 1984. For the rules for payments under pre-1985 instruments, see Publication 504, Divorced or Separated Individuals.
Use Table 20-1 in this chapter as a guide to determine whether certain payments are considered alimony.
The following definitions apply throughout this chapter.
Spouse or former spouse.
Unless otherwise stated in the following discussions about alimony, the term "spouse" includes former spouse.
Divorce or separation instrument.
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. 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).
- 504 - Divorced or Separated Individuals
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