At the start of 2019, the federal government eliminated the 70-year-old tax deduction associated with alimony payments. For receiving spouses, it may seem beneficial to no longer have to claim alimony payments as income, but the change actually leaves less money for the entire family. That is because paying spouses, who remain at the same tax bracket, may need to decrease their support amount to balance out their financial obligations. Thankfully, there are some alternative strategies that families can use to preserve their wealth after a divorce.
Trading Alimony Payments for a Transference of Retirement Funds
Depending on the ages of the divorcing parties, a transference of retirement funds may be preferable to alimony payments. In this option, the paying spouse makes a tax-free exchange of money by directing some of their retirement funds to the lower-earning spouse. The receiving spouse may also withdraw from the amount without tax penalty, so long as they are age 59.5 or older. If the receiving party has not yet surpassed the age threshold, divorcing parties may want to consider another alternative, as the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty may outweigh any potential benefits for the family unit.
Using a Trust Account in Lieu of Alimony Payments
Another potentially viable alternative to alimony payments is the use of a trust account. The most commonly used versions are the CRT (charitable remainder trust), QTIP (Qualified Terminable Interest Trust), ILIT (Life Insurance Trust), and Alimony Trusts.