Couples getting a divorce should consider tax implications

Any Illinois divorce will have emotional considerations. Many people will be concerned that they are doing the wrong thing and are hesitant to rush the process. Some divorces, however, are clear-cut. The couple knows the marriage and the relationship has run its course and they want to move on. When that is the case, perhaps it is preferable to get it over with as quickly as possible. For those in that situation, a current factor should lead to them thinking about expediting their case – specifically, tax benefits for those who pay alimony.

As 2018 reaches its final month, people getting a divorce should know that for a spouse paying alimony, the tax deduction for doing so will end on Dec. 31. This is part of the new tax laws implemented by the Trump Administration. With that, people whose marriages cannot be salvaged are rushing to complete the case before the year is over. In the past, the paying spouse had the right to deduct those payments. Those receiving support paid taxes on what they got. With the elimination of this deduction, the tax responsibility will move from the supported spouse to the supporting spouse.

Alimony will hinge on the income of the paying spouse, the ability of the receiving spouse to support him or herself, and how long the marriage lasted. In 2017, approximately $12.7 billion was deducted by the around 586,000 people who paid alimony in 2016. If there is an agreement in place and approved by a judge at the end of 2018, the deduction will continue. It is only new divorces after the new year that will be subject to the tax change. This change coincides with Illinois changing the state guidelines for alimony. The new state law takes 33.3 percent of the supporting spouse’s net income and then subtracts 25 percent of the income the recipient earns. Previously, it was 30 percent and 20 percent.

In general, legal professionals will counsel clients to take their time before moving forward with a divorce if they believe there might be a chance at saving the marriage. That is still advisable when that chance is legitimate. In many cases, that is simply delaying the inevitable and, with the tax implications coming into effect, that should spur people to get the process over and done with. For people who fall into this situation, having legal advice on how to speed the process and complete divorce settlements is imperative. A law firm that represents a wide variety of clients in divorce cases can help.

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