What are the differences in tax treatment of spousal support versus child support?

By Chuck Roberts
November 15, 2016

The child support component of payments is not a taxable event. If someone receives a certain amount of money in child support, they do not declare that as income nor does the party who paid the child support claim it as a deduction for either federal or state tax purposes in Illinois. Maintenance, however – spousal support is what we used to call alimony – is a taxable event.

There are some little wrinkles that the IRS has set up over the years to try to make sure that if money is changing hands and being called alimony, that it really is alimony. Assuming that those fairly simple tasks are met, the person who pays it takes that amount of money as a deduction right off the bottom of the front page of their federal tax returns. It comes right off the gross income. The party who receives it, it gets treated as ordinary income, so they pay tax on it.

In general, maintenance is a taxable event, child support is not.


Chuck Roberts is a family lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts, LLC, one of the largest law firms in DuPage County, Illinois. To learn more about Roberts and his firm, visit his profile or go to www.momlaw.com.

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November 15, 2016
Categories:  FAQs

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