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Understanding the Tax Implications of Alimony in North Carolina

Overview of Alimony in North Carolina

Alimony, also known as spousal support, is a legal obligation for an individual to provide financial support to their spouse during or after a marital separation or divorce. In North Carolina, alimony is awarded based on several factors, including the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, the age and physical and emotional condition of both parties, and their financial resources.

Tax Implications of Alimony

Prior to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) of 2017, alimony payments were deductible by the payor and taxable income to the recipient. However, for any divorce or separation agreement executed after December 31, 2018, this is no longer the case. The TCJA eliminated the tax deduction for alimony payments and recipients are no longer required to include these payments in their taxable income.

This change has significant implications for couples in North Carolina who are navigating through divorce proceedings. For example, if John and Jane Doe divorced in 2019, with an agreement that John would pay Jane $30,000 annually in alimony, John cannot deduct these payments from his taxable income. Similarly, Jane will not include this alimony as taxable income when she files her taxes.

Considerations for Alimony Agreements

Given this shift in tax policy, individuals going through a divorce must reconsider their strategies when negotiating alimony agreements. The change could lead to lower overall alimony payments since the payor can no longer benefit from the tax deduction. Furthermore, it's crucial to ensure that divorce agreements are clear on the terms of alimony payments and that they comply with TCJA requirements.

Additionally, for those with pre-2019 alimony agreements, it's important to note that they are grandfathered under the old tax rules unless they have been modified after the TCJA came into effect. If modifications are made, parties should be explicit about whether they want the new or old tax rules to apply.


The TCJA's alteration to how alimony is taxed has substantially changed the landscape for divorcing couples in North Carolina. Understanding these changes and how they affect both parties financially is critical when negotiating an agreement. Couples may need to seek revised legal strategies and financial planning advice to accommodate this tax law shift.