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Alimony, also called “spousal maintenance” on Long Island, is a payment usually made from the higher earning spouse to the other to replace a portion of lost income until the lower earning spouse is able to financially support themselves independently. Often, one spouse will give up career opportunities while the other pursues theirs to keep the home and/or take care of children, leaving them at a distinct financial disadvantage in the event of a divorce. Spousal maintenance was originally designed to bridge that gap, and since its inception, many laws have been created to govern how and when alimony is paid and taxed.

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Alimony payments are usually substantial since they are calculated based on the amount of money the higher earning spouse makes. This means that the taxes on the money are also substantial. Both spouses cannot pay taxes on the same money, meaning a decision must be made regarding who bears the tax burden. Here’s what you need to know about how spousal maintenance is taxed on Long Island, what recent changes have taken effect, and what this could mean for your alimony payments.

How Tax Law Changes in 2019 Affect Alimony Payments

In 2019, some significant changes were made to federal tax law that greatly affects families who pay and receive alimony. Essentially, the tax burden is shifting from the recipient of the money to the payer. At the end of 2018, family law firms saw the impact this change had on communities across the nation. Spouses who were likely to have to pay spousal maintenance wanted to finalize the divorce by December 31, while spouses who were likely to receive it wanted to delay the process just a little longer.

How Alimony Was Taxed in 2018 and Prior

Before the changes to federal tax law went into effect, alimony was considered an above-the-line deduction, meaning that it was deducted before adjusted gross income is figured. This could be done even without itemizing and reduced overall taxable income. Being able to deduct alimony took some sting out of it, especially for individuals in higher tax brackets who were paying $30,000 a year or more in alimony.

How Alimony Will Be Taxed in 2019 and Beyond

As of January 1, 2019, alimony payments are no longer eligible for a federal income tax deduction under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Once the divorce is finalized, the payer will not be able to deduct alimony payments and payments will not be treated like regularly taxed income. This means that in cases where spousal maintenance is awarded, the tax burden is shifted from the recipient to the payer, which can amount to thousands of dollars depending on how much the alimony payments are.

Who Still Gets a Deduction

Anyone who finalized their divorce prior to 2019 will still be able to deduct alimony payments and report payments as taxable income. However, it’s important to evaluate how this may change if a modification to the divorce decree is made under the new tax laws. If you are considering modifying your existing divorce agreement, you should discuss the risk versus benefits with an experienced Long Island divorce lawyer.

Are Child Support Payments Affected?

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act did not include provisions for child support laws, therefore the laws regarding how child support is taxed on Long Island are not affected by the changes. Child support payments will continue to not be included as taxable income by the recipient or as tax-deductible by the payer, meaning that the payer bears the tax burden.

Contact a Divorce Lawyer Regarding Alimony & Taxes

If you are considering getting a divorce or modifying your existing divorce decree under the current federal tax laws, it’s critical to understand how your alimony payments will look. Consult with an experienced divorce attorney before initiating the process to protect your best interests and make an informed decision about your next step.

Check out our Divorce Guide for Dads for more information about divorce issues specifically related to fathers.

Our Long Island family law firm can help you learn about current laws that may affect your divorce and can provide you with comprehensive legal representation. Contact us today to schedule a complimentary consultation to discuss the details of your case at 631-923-1910. We are available now to speak with you.

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Everett Roberts
Everett Roberts
14:30 18 Mar 20
Going through a divorce was very challenging and emotional. Searching for an attorney can be challenging as well when you consider everything that is at stake. The choice I made to work with Rob Hornberger was surely the best choice available. His professionalism, expertise, and understanding made him and the entire team perfectly suited to achieve the outcomes I desired. Rob was always available to answer my questions and give me advice and legal considerations that affected my situation. The support I received from his staff was exemplary as well. The staff was courteous, kind, and also very professional. Thank you so much Rob and team for a worry free experience.
Annemarie Cusumano
Annemarie Cusumano
21:41 17 Mar 20
Being in family court especially when your children are on the line is extremely emotional and stressful but working with Robert and Christine put me at ease and made the process as pleasant as a situation like that can be. I have a now 3 year old daughter (who is the most important person in my life) and I've been working with them for over two years since my daughter was 7 months old, the case has been up and down and through it all Rob and Christine have never given up. My original case was due to a neglect charge. Cps is not easy to work with, but Rob and Christine were vigilant and I ended up getting my daughter back within 8 months and did not have to plead guilty to the neglect. Currently I am in family court to figure out a custody agreement. They are professional, empathetic, and patient. They have always explained everything thoroughly, informed me of all my options and advised me of what my best option would be. They always respond quickly when I contact them with questions or concerns and most importantly they fight for me in court and don't give up even when things get rough. Before hiring Rob and Christine I met with other attorneys who did not make me feel confident or comfortable at all about my case, so I am very grateful to have found Rob and Christine and to be represented by such great attorneys. I highly recommend them for any family court matters and will definitely continue to use them in the future if needed.
Steven Frierman
Steven Frierman
02:25 07 Mar 20
After meeting with 3 different lawyers, we felt Robert understood us best and he genuinely had our best interests at heart. This helped us resolve a few minor issues in a timely fashion and make a potentially stressful situation go more smoothly.Thank you
Randi Gottlieb
Randi Gottlieb
18:47 03 Mar 20
Hornberger Verbitsky, P.C. - Mr. Robert Hornberger and his staff are beyond professional, they quickly gave me my consultation appointment, and helped me with an after-Divorce issue. Mr. Hornberger was empathetic and explained to me what I should expect. Mr. Hornberger was extremely professional and advised me of my options, he helped me proceed with accurate and smart decisions. I wish I had Mr. Hornberger and his highly recommended staff when I was getting divorced. I would highly recommend Robert and his staff to anyone who is getting a divorce or in need of help with situations after the divorce!
Rob Spielmann
Rob Spielmann
22:15 27 Feb 20
They made our process so easy. They were there to answer and help with any questions that came up. Very friendly


  • I have known Robert for more than 8 eight years. Robert has represented many of my family and friends. Each and every one has raved about Robert’s professionalism and expertise. He is knowledgable, friendly and truly cares about his clients. I would not hesitate to continue to refer Robert and his firm in the future!
  • I’ve known Robert for most of my life, and feel very fortunate that I have been able to turn to a good friend for various kinds of legal advice. He is very intelligent, straight forward, and professional. Most importantly though, Robert always finds the fastest resolution, and will not waste your time or money. He is NOT in the habit of dragging things through litigation if there is no need for the added expense. I have referred a few of my friends to Robert, and they have all been more than satisfied in their experience with him. Highly recommend!!



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