Individuals must consider the tax consequences of obligations related to child support in divorce proceedings. The fact that child support payments are not deductible and the receipt of child support is not taxable sometimes creates spousal bitterness and discord in a divorce case. In this situation, the prevalent issue is the conflict between the payor’s desire to characterize his or her payment as an income tax deductible payment of alimony, while the payee-spouse wishes to treat the payment as a tax-free receipt of child support.
Individuals in the middle of, or just beyond a divorce rarely consider the tax ramifications of the agreements that they make as a party to the divorce proceedings. It’s only later that they become aware of the tax consequences of their divorce, when they get their tax bill and their accountant informs them of the special circumstances which increased it.
Divorced taxpayers with children that fail to include an executed Form 8332 with their tax return will lose the exemption for that particular tax year. Form 8332 (Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent) allows parents to do the following.
- Release a claim to exemption for a child so that the noncustodial parent can claim an exemption for the child.
- Revoke a previous release of claim to exemption for a child.
Divorcing couples often wonder who claims the children on their taxes, and in what other ways divorce will affect their taxes. Questions may include which filing status to use after the divorce, and how payments for spousal maintenance and child support to an ex-spouse are treated for tax purposes. Also, inquiries about what happens to assets like the family residence are obviously frequently common.
Married couples have the option to file jointly or separately on their federal income tax returns. Undoubtedly, married couples during tax season have asked each other if they are filing advantageously, whether currently filing jointly or separately. The IRS strongly encourages most couples to file joint tax returns by extending several tax breaks to those who file together. In the vast majority of cases, it’s best for married couples to file jointly, but there may be a few instances when it’s better to submit separate returns.
Is Your Income Taxable?
Generally, under IRS rules, all incomes are taxable, except if they are specifically excluded from income. Taxable income includes money earned, like wages and tips. It also includes bartering, an exchange of property or services
Certain incomes are usually excluded from income, such as
• Gifts and inheritances
• Child support payments
• Welfare benefits
• Damage awards for physical injury or sickness
• Cash rebates from a dealer or manufacturer for an item you buy
• Reimbursements for qualified adoption expenses
Under certain conditions, the following income may not be taxable::
• Life insurance. Proceeds paid to you because of the death of the insured person are usually not taxable. However, if you redeem a life insurance policy for cash, any amount that you get that is more than the cost of the policy is taxable.
• Qualified scholarship. In most cases, income from this type of scholarship is not taxable. This means that amounts you use for certain costs, such as tuition and required books, are not taxable. On the other hand, amounts you use for room and board are taxable.
• State income tax refund. If you got a state or local income tax refund, the amount may be taxable. You should have received a 2014 Form 1099-G from the agency that made the payment to you. If you didn’t get it by mail, the agency may have provided the form electronically. Contact them to find out how to get the form. Report any taxable refund you got even if you did not receive Form 1099-G.