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There's a tax difference between alimony and child support payments. A person making qualified alimony payments can deduct them. Alimony payments received by the former spouse are taxable and you must include them in your income. The payor can’t deduct child support, and payments are tax-free to the recipient.
To qualify for the alimony deduction:
The amount you pay might depend on the life event of a child. If so, you can’t claim the payment -- or the portion affected by the event -- as alimony.
The law allows recapture of certain alimony deductions. This keeps large payments from being treated as deductible alimony in the first few years after a divorce. Instead, they can be treated as a nondeductible property settlement.
You're subject to the recapture rule in the third year if either of these applies:
Your former spouse might die or remarry. If either happens, you don't have to worry about recapture if payments stop in the second or third year.
To learn more, see Publication 504: Divorced or Separated Individuals at www.irs.gov.