Is Child Support Tax Deductible?

Is child support tax deductible? Sorry — child support payments are not tax-deductible. 

There, we said it. 

We realize it may seem unfair, given that these payments are government-mandated and are in effect supporting a dependent and all, but no. The IRS firmly views these as personal expenses, not eligible for tax deduction. 

There are only two possible caveats: your child’s medical expenses, provided they’re large enough, and you may claim your child as a dependent and catch deductions this way, but only if the child lives with you for more than half the year. 

is child support tax deductible

What are the current tax laws concerning child support?

The Internal Revenue Service considers child support payments to be a personal expense because of what these payments are likely to go toward: food, clothing, and school supplies. Personal stuff. 

These items are things that a parent is deemed responsible for providing. Child support payments, are a sort of ‘middle-man’ — they merely act as a conduit for these personal expenses. 

Additionally, the parent receiving the child support payments is directed by the IRS to not include the money they receive through child support payments when totaling their gross income

These same rules and regulations are reflected in IRS Topic No. 452 which reiterates, “Child support payments are never deductible and is not considered income“. The Internal Revenue Service considers child support payments to be “tax neutral”, which means they are considered to be neither income nor a tax-deductible payment. 

Tax deductions based on your child's medical expenses:

In theory, noncustodial parents can get a tax deduction on their child’s medical expenses. 

In practice, however, the hoops you have to go through may make it a bigger hassle than it is worth. 

  • First off, in order to qualify, your child’s medical expense must exceed 10% of your annual gross income. Further, you’ll need to itemize your deductions and most likely give up your standard deduction filing status. Unfortunately, unless your itemized deductions exceed the standard deduction that you are typically entitled to, there is no reason to itemize in the first place. 

Additionally: 

  • You must have personally paid the funds which you are claiming to either the medical care provider or your insurance company.
  • You must be biologically related to the child who you are claiming a medical expense deduction for.

Still wondering?

While the IRS’ stance on child support payments is unequivocally clear, you may be wondering about alimony and other matters. A free, short consultation with a tax attorney may help you navigate your situation.