If You Pay Spousal Maintenance, You’ll Pay More So the Ultra-Rich Can Get Tax Cuts Under Proposed GOP Plan


Divorce is already a painful proposition. It can be an expensive one as well. And if one iteration of the Republican tax scheme currently making its way through Congress actually becomes law, divorce will be even more painful and more expensive for those making spousal maintenance payments.

Under current law, all amounts paid for spousal maintenance or alimony reduce the payor’s taxable income by the same sum. For most folks paying maintenance, this deduction represents a significant tax savings that can ease the burden of supporting an ex.

Republicans Want “Divorce Penalty” to Pay for Tax Cuts for the Wealthy

If the GOP has its way, however, that deduction will disappear in order to pay for sweeping tax cuts for the ultra-wealthy. Section 1309 of the Republicans’ so-called “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” includes a controversial provision that would eliminate the break divorcees get for paying alimony.

This would be unfair, unwise, and unwelcome for almost every person on the hook for maintenance payments.

The additional financial strain created by eliminating this crucial deduction could lead to more tension and disputes during the divorce process. For people who are struggling with the financial fallout of a divorce, including paying for two separate households, the loss of another $5,000-$15,000 per year could be devastating.

Impact on Illinois Maintenance Awards Unclear

In 2015, Illinois enacted significant changes to the law which established guidelines for how judges calculate the amount and duration of spousal maintenance awards. The guidelines only apply where the combined gross income of the parties is less than $250,000 and no multiple family situation exists. For couples within that threshold, the new law provides that a maintenance award should equal 30 percent of the payor’s gross income, minus 20 percent of the payee’s gross income.

If the spouse paying maintenance loses thousands of dollars annually because the GOP eliminates the tax deduction for those payments, it could impact how that gross income is calculated in a way that could hurt both spouses.

Call Me If You Have Questions

Obviously, the GOP’s plans have yet to be finalized and there is a long way between the hundreds of proposals in the plan and an actual piece of passed and signed legislation. But if the Republicans get their way and eliminate the spousal maintenance deduction, it represents just another way that those already struggling to meet their obligations will bear the burdens of making the ultra-rich ultra-richer.

If you are considering a divorce and have questions about how these proposed changes to the law may impact your decision-making, please give me a call at (312) 236-2433 or fill out my online form to arrange for a consultation.