Is Spousal Support Tax Deductible?

The answer is generally yes, spousal support is tax deductible to the payor spouse and considered income for the payee spouse.

There must be a written instrument, order or judgment for the spousal support to be deductible. IRS Publication 504 states

“Alimony is a payment to or for a spouse or former spouse under a “divorce or separation instrument.” It does not include voluntary payments that are not made under a divorce or separation instrument.
Alimony is deductible by the payer and must be included in the spouse’s or former spouse’s income.
Divorce or separation instrument. The term “divorce or separation instrument” means: A decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a writ-ten instrument incident to that decree, A written separation agreement, or A decree or any type of court order requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse. This includes a temporary decree, an interlocutory (not final) decree, and a decree of alimony pendente lite (while awaiting action on the final decree or agreement).

Payments not alimony. Not all payments under a divorce or separation instrument are alimony. Alimony does not include: Child support, Noncash property settlements, Payments that are your spouse’s part ofcommunity income, as explained later under Community Property, Payments to keep up the payer’s property, or Use of the payer’s property

Payments to a third party. Cash payments, checks, or money orders to a third party on behalf of your spouse under the terms of your divorce or separation instrument can be alimony, if they otherwise qualify. These include payments for your spouse’s medical expenses, housing costs (rent, utilities, etc.), taxes, tuition, etc. The payments are treated as received by your spouse and then paid to the third party.
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