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Alimony payments, record keeping and taxes

If you're paying alimony each month to your ex-spouse, you should know that those payments are tax deductible. However, just like every tax deduction with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you need to keep appropriate records to benefit when it's time to file your taxes at the end of the year.

One of the most important reasons why you will want to keep accurate records of each alimony payment you make is because spouses sometimes -- either on purpose or by accident -- report different amounts on their IRS tax statements. In other words, you might state on your tax filing that you paid $500 every month in alimony, but your ex-spouse might say that she received $300 every month in alimony. The IRS could flag this error and look into it, and you'll want to have accurate records if this happens.

Here are the alimony records you'll want to keep track of if you're the paying spouse:

-- Receipts for every cash alimony payment. Make sure that your ex-spouse signs the receipt to prove that he or she received it.

-- Copies of all checks that you issued as alimony payments. In the memo of your checks, always write the month that the check paying for.

-- A payment log showing: how much was paid, the date of the payment, the month the payment is for, the check number, the address you sent the check to and a copy of the cashed check if it's available.

Since you'll use the above information to claim your tax deductions, you'll want to keep this supporting documentation for a period of at least three years after you filed your tax return. You might want to keep these records for the duration of your alimony payments, so that you'll have a record that you faithfully paid your alimony.

Should you ever be accused of not paying alimony payments, or if the IRS contacts you to perform an audit of your alimony payment history, you may want to consult with a North Carolina divorce lawyer. A lawyer will make sure you answer any legal challenge appropriately.

Source: FindLaw, "Alimony Guidelines: What Records to Keep Regarding Your Alimony," accessed April 25, 2017

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