The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act:Family Law Tip #1 - What is Happening to Alimony?

Friday, 02 March 2018 14:32 Written by  Elizabeth J. Fineman

As everyone has heard by now, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed on December 22, 2017, and is now law.  While the name may be confusing, what it means for taxpayers is that many tax laws are changing.  Attorneys and accountants are still figuring out what the impact of the Act  will be, and more direction will be provided by the IRS in the coming months and years.  This is the first in a series of blogs designed to demystify the new tax laws that may impact those who are divorced or currently in the process of getting divorced.

Alimony has long been tax deductible to the payor (person paying alimony) and added to taxable income to the recipient (the person receiving alimony), as long as specific requirements set forth by the IRS are followed.  The result has been an income shift from the party that pays a higher tax rate to the party that pays a lower tax rate.  In the end, both parties under this scenario end up with more money than if alimony were not taxable or deductible.  This treatment has applied to spousal support, alimony pendente lite and alimony.

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, such treatment of alimony will change, but not right away.   As of now, the change is only for tax years 2019 through 2025, and specifically will only apply to agreements signed after December 31, 2018.  It remains to be seen what will happen after 2025, or possibly before if there are additional changes to the tax code.  There is an exception made, however, for those who have already entered into an agreement on or before December 31, 2018.  The law changes for all agreements entered after December 31, 2018, so that the alimony will no longer be deductible for the payor, or count as income to the recipient.  It remains to be seen if there are any changes to how the amount of spousal support, alimony pendente lite or alimony are calculated given the change in the tax law.  If there are no changes to the calculations, the result will be a loss of tax advantage for the party paying support, while the party receiving support will receive the benefit.  If there are changes to the support calculations, I would anticipate that we will know by the end of this year.  Stay tuned.

Last modified on Friday, 16 March 2018 15:40
Elizabeth J. Fineman

Elizabeth J. Fineman

Elizabeth Fineman concentrates her practice on domestic relations matters and handles a variety of issues, including divorce, child support, alimony/spousal support, marital taxation, equitable distribution and child custody matters. She has handled many high-income support cases involving an intricate knowledge of both family law and complex financial issues. Additionally, she has handled several appellate court matters representing her clients’ interests in the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

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