How to Report Child Support Income on Your Taxes

Is child support taxable? Find out now, right here.

The Internal Revenue Service’s deadline for filing and paying your taxes for 2017 is April 17, 2018. 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.

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, “Do you have to claim child support on taxes?”

When it comes to doing your taxes, knowledge is power. Filing is actually pretty straightforward when you know what you’re doing with your taxes. Here’s what you need to know about reporting child support income on your taxes and whether child support is tax deductible.

Is Child Support Taxable Income?

So, is child support deductible? The short answer is no. If your ex-husband or ex-wife has to pay child support to you, don’t include those amounts as taxable income on your tax return. You do not have to claim child support on taxes, according to IRS child support guidelines.

Related: 10 Best Tax Tips for Single Parents

How to Report Child Support Payments on Your Taxes

You don’t report child support payments that you received — or were entitled to — anywhere on your Form 1040 income tax return. Even if you itemize your deductions on Schedule A of Form 1040, child support payments are not an itemized deduction.

Don’t confuse child support payments with spousal support. The IRS requires you to report alimony you received as part of your gross income. The payer must record your name and Social Security number on his own tax return, as well.

How Do I Claim a Dependent on My Taxes?

Even if you receive child support payments, you might be able to claim a child as your dependent if you meet certain requirements. The advantage of claiming dependents is that you are allowed one exemption per dependent, which lowers your tax liability. In addition, if you paid more than half the household costs where your child lives, you might qualify for the advantageous  tax filing of “head of household” status.

In most cases, if your child lived with you, you’re referred to as the “custodial parent” and you can claim him as a dependent on your income tax return for that year. Your ex-spouse is the “noncustodial parent.”

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

  • Be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. National, or resident of Canada or Mexico
  • Be younger than you
  • Be under age 19
  • Be under age 24, if a student
  • Be any age if permanently and totally disabled
  • Have lived with you more than half of the tax year
  • Not have provided more than half of his own support during the year

Related: Here’s Who Claims the Children on Taxes After Divorce

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

Preparing your annual income tax returns is often a confusing and difficult chore; it’s even more 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.