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Alimony changes coming after 2018

Couples in Florida who are planning to divorce in 2018 may have a strong incentive to act quickly to avoid changes that will go into effect when the new year dawns. Changes to the way that alimony or spousal support is taxed are going into effect on January 1, 2019, and those changes can have serious consequences for both parties in a marital split. The changes will only affect couples who divorce after the beginning of 2019. Individuals who have finalized their divorces prior to that date will operate under the current taxation system.

These changes can be particularly concerning for couples with significant wealth who are going through a high-asset divorce. Currently, alimony payments are tax-deductible for the paying spouse. Meanwhile, the recipient pays taxes on the alimony as income. In many ways, this structure benefits both parties. The higher-earning ex-spouse can significantly reduce his or her tax burden while the lower-earning spouse pays taxes at a lower rate and can put his or her spousal support payments into an IRA.

In 2019, however, this system will change. Alimony will no longer be tax-deductible for the paying spouse. In addition, the recipient spouse will no longer pay taxes on the income. While the government will bring in more taxes through this system, it is unlikely to bring any financial relief to either party in a divorce. In addition to eliminating the tax deduction that eased spousal support for the paying spouse, the recipient can no longer use these funds toward IRA contributions.

If people finalize their divorces in 2018, these tax law changes will not affect them even if the agreement is later modified between the parties. For individuals who are dealing with significant assets and spousal support, an attorney who specializes in family law issues can work to represent their interests and finalize their divorce in the current year.

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