How To Report Child Support Income on Your Taxes

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The Internal Revenue Service’s deadline for filing and paying your 2020 taxes is May 17, 2021. It’s never too early to start planning for Tax Day — and it’s better to answer any questions you might have now instead of later.

Don’t Forget: The 6 Most Important Tax Deductions You Need To Claim

If you’re divorced and receive child support, you might wonder if you have to include those payments as taxable gross income on your tax return. Here’s what you need to know about reporting child support income on your taxes and the answer to the question, “Is child support taxable?”

Please note that The IRS has announced that the federal income tax deadline for individuals is May 17, 2021 for the 2020 tax year. State deadlines have not changed, however, so make sure to confirm your state’s due date before you file. 

Is Child Support Taxable Income?

So, is child support considered income? The short answer is no.

If your ex-husband or ex-wife pays child support to you, don’t include those amounts as taxable income on your tax return. Child support doesn’t count as income, so you shouldn’t include child support on taxes, according to IRS guidelines.

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Related: 8 Best Tax Tips for Single Parents

How To Report Child Support Income on Your Taxes

If you’re wondering where to find child support received on the 1040 tax form, you don’t report child support payments that you received — or were entitled to — anywhere on your Form 1040 income tax return. The same is true if you need to know where to find child support on the 1040 tax form in general. Even if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040, child support payments don’t qualify as an itemized deduction.

However, don’t confuse child support payments with spousal support. The IRS requires you to report alimony that you received as part of your gross income. The payer must record your Social Security number on their own tax return if they choose to deduct the alimony, as well.

Find Out: 7 Ways You’re Accidentally Committing Tax Fraud

How Do I Claim a Dependent on My Taxes?

You might be able to claim a child as your dependent if you meet certain requirements. In addition, if you paid more than half of the household costs where your child lives, you might qualify for the advantageous tax filing status of head of household.

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If your child lived in your home for a greater part of the year, you’re referred to as the custodial parent, and you can claim them as a dependent on your income tax return for that year. Your ex-spouse is referred to as the noncustodial parent.

For you to claim a child as a dependent, the child must meet the broad IRS definition of “qualifying child,” which covers a variety of relatives, including grandchildren. The qualifying child must:

  • Live in the U.S. for more than half of the year
  • Be younger than you
  • Be under age 19
  • Be under age 24, if a full-time student
  • Be any age if permanently and totally disabled
  • Have lived with you for more than half of the tax year
  • Not file a joint return, unless the child and the child’s spouse didn’t have a separate filing requirement and filed the joint return only to claim a refund

Real life is complicated, so tax laws account for many exceptions to these requirements to address a wide variety of personal circumstances.

Here’s What You Need To Know: Taxes Have Changed for Divorced Parents

Preparing your annual income tax return can be complicated when it comes to taxes for divorced parents who might be receiving or paying child support. Consult a tax professional to ensure you get the best possible result for your family — and make the lowest tax payment possible.

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    Gabrielle Olya contributed to the reporting for this article.

    Last updated: Mar. 18, 2021

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    About the Author

    Valerie Rind is the author of the award-winning book, "Gold Diggers and Deadbeat Dads: True Stories of Friends, Family, and Financial Ruin." With expertise in a broad range of personal finance and lifestyle topics, her work has been featured in Time/Money, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Huffington Post, Business Insider, PBS Next Avenue and her own website at
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