Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznare
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Case Law Development: Characterizing Awards for Tax Purposes

The tax court, in a recent summary opinion, provides a good example for our students of the importance of careful drafting in light of the interrelationship between the tax code and state law when determining the tax consequences of divorce.  In this case, the divorce decree provided that Husband would pay Wife $1200 a month in “rehabilitative alimony” and an additional $72,000 in “lump-sum alimony”, payable in installments of $600 a month.  The decree did not indicate whether this lump sum
award would terminate upon Wife’s death.

Under section 71(b) of the tax code, alimony is not deductible if it does not terminate upon the payee spouse’s death.  Because the Florida courts have held that an award of lump-sum  alimony survives the death of both the obligor and the obligee, the alimony was not properly deductible.

Hinson v. Commissioner, US Tax Court Summary Opinion 2007-92 (June 7, 2007)

Read opinion (last visited June 14, 2007 bgf)

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