On January 1, 2019, a provision of the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 went into effect that will impact divorce cases going forward. This law eliminated the tax deduction for spousal support in divorces finalized on or after that date. The effects of this change to the law are still being felt, and many long-term results have yet to be seen. In many cases, it has required people on both sides of a divorce involving spousal maintenance to be more savvy and resourceful when it comes to reaching a settlement.
How Has the New Law Affected Taxes on Spousal Maintenance?
For many years, maintenance (which is also referred to as spousal support or alimony) was taxed as follows:
- The spouse paying maintenance would be able to deduct the amount of support payments from his or her taxable income.
- The spouse receiving maintenance would pay income taxes on the support payments.
Under the new law, there is no tax deduction for the payor of spousal support and no tax on these payments for the recipient. However, this change only applies to divorces that were completed after December 31, 2018. For divorces finalized on or before that date, spousal maintenance will continue to be taxed as it had been previously. In other words, the new law taxes spousal support payments in divorces completed in 2019 or later the same as child support payments.
Strategies Being Employed Under the New Tax Law
While some may see this change in the law as a substantial hindrance to those who pay spousal maintenance and a benefit to those who receive spousal support, the truth is that it may result in lower alimony payments and financial issues for both parties. Without the ability to deduct maintenance payments, a payor may be in a higher tax bracket, leaving them with less overall income to put toward support. Because of this, both parties in many divorce cases may be less willing to negotiate and agree on spousal maintenance payments.
To address these concerns, some divorcing spouses are getting much more creative and resourceful about how they reach spousal support agreements. In many cases, spouses are figuring out ways to reach fair divorce settlements without having the payments made by one party to the other be considered spousal maintenance that is subject to tax guidelines. Some strategies that people may use to lessen the effects of the new law include:
- Funding alimony through pre-tax retirement accounts
- Setting up a trust
- Allocating more marital property through investments
Contact a DuPage County Alimony Lawyer
Changes to the tax laws can have a significant effect on your divorce, and you should be sure to understand the best ways to address these issues and reach a settlement that will meet your ongoing needs. At the Andrew Cores Family Law Group, our Wheaton divorce attorneys can help you determine how to protect your financial interests and ensure that you will be prepared for success as you move on from the end of your marriage. Reach out to us at 630-871-1002 for a complimentary consultation.