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How child support affects taxes

Tax season is now in full swing. For many households, filing taxes brings up important considerations regarding not only tax law, but also family law. These areas often overlap in key ways.

We recently discussed the affect of child custody on taxes. Today, we will examine the interplay between child support and taxes.

As a child support recipient or payer, your first concern is likely how these payments are treated for tax purposes. The answer is rather straightforward. At the federal level, the IRS does not regard child support as income. If you pay child support, you cannot deduct those payments as expenses. Likewise, if you receive child support, it will not be taxable as income. Nor will it count toward your Earned Income Credit.

This approach makes sense in light of the rationale behind child support payments. Under Missouri law, parents have a legal obligation to financially provide for their children. This is true even of parents who were never married. Child support simply balances out this duty between the two parents.

Additionally, child support obligations are based in large part on each parent's income. The payments themselves should not serve as the basis for determining the appropriate amount of child support.

Taxes and child support also intersect when it comes to enforcement. What if your ex-spouse or partner is behind on child support payments? For parents entitled to overdue payments, taxes may offer an avenue for recovery. You may be able to intercept the other parent's tax refunds at both the state and federal levels. A lawyer can help you navigate this process.

Source: FindLaw, "Child Support and Taxes Q&A." Accessed March 20, 2015.

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