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IRS.gov Website
Publication 17
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Chapter 18
Alimony(p131)

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This chapter discusses the rules that apply if you pay or receive alimony. It covers the following topics.
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 in the spouse's or former spouse's 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 generally 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. If you need the rules for payments under pre-1985 instruments, get and keep a copy of the 2004 version of Publication 504. That was the last year the information on pre-1985 instruments was included in Publication 504.
Use Table 18-1 in this chapter as a guide to determine whether certain payments are considered alimony.
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Definitions.(p131)

rule
The following definitions apply throughout this chapter.
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Spouse or former spouse.(p131)
Unless otherwise stated, the term "spouse" includes former spouse.
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Divorce or separation instrument.(p131)
The term "divorce or separation instrument" means:

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Useful items

You may want to see:


Publication
 504  Divorced or Separated Individuals
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General Rules(p131)

rule
The following rules apply to alimony regardless of when the divorce or separation instrument was executed.
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Payments not alimony.(p131)

rule
Not all payments under a divorce or separation instrument are alimony. Alimony does not include:
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Payments to a third party.(p131)

rule
Cash payments, checks, or money orders to a third party on behalf of your spouse under the terms of your divorce or separation instrument can be alimony, if they otherwise qualify. These include payments for your spouse's medical expenses, housing costs (rent, utilities, etc.), taxes, tuition, etc. The payments are treated as received by your spouse and then paid to the third party.
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Life insurance premiums.(p131)

rule
Alimony includes premiums you must pay under your divorce or separation instrument for insurance on your life to the extent your spouse owns the policy.
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Payments for jointly-owned home.(p131)

rule
If your divorce or separation instrument states that you must pay expenses for a home owned by you and your spouse, some of your payments may be alimony.
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Mortgage payments.(p132)
If you must pay all the mortgage payments (principal and interest) on a jointly-owned home, and they otherwise qualify as alimony, you can deduct one-half of the total payments as alimony. If you itemize deductions and the home is a qualified home, you can claim one-half of the interest in figuring your deductible interest. Your spouse must report one-half of the payments as alimony received. If your spouse itemizes deductions and the home is a qualified home, he or she can claim one-half of the interest on the mortgage in figuring deductible interest.
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Taxes and insurance.(p132)
If you must pay all the real estate taxes or insurance on a home held as tenants in common, you can deduct one-half of these payments as alimony. Your spouse must report one-half of these payments as alimony received. If you and your spouse itemize deductions, you can each claim one-half of the real estate taxes and none of the home insurance.
If your home is held as tenants by the entirety or joint tenants, none of your payments for taxes or insurance are alimony. But if you itemize deductions, you can claim all of the real estate taxes and none of the home insurance.
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Other payments to a third party.(p132)
If you made other third-party payments, see Publication 504 to see whether any part of the payments qualifies as alimony.