What Is Included in Income for the Purpose of California Child Support?

The state of California takes into consideration the income of both parents when determining child support payments. Sources of income will vary from person to person.

Section 4058 of the California Family Code provides that annual gross income can come from a combination of “commissions, salaries, royalties, wages, bonuses, rents, dividends, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, workers’ compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, social security benefits, and spousal support actually received from a person not a party to the proceeding.”

Other sources of income will include that from a business owned by the individual after subtracting the expenses of the business from the revenue. A court may also consider employee benefits or self-employment benefits as part of a parent’s annual gross income if those benefits come in exchange for—or at the expense of—potential income for the receipt of those benefits.

There is income that is not taken into consideration for the determination of child support, as well. Child support received to benefit children from a previous relationship is not considered income for determining support for the child(ren) of the current relationship. Other items that are not considered include public assistance benefits received based on need.

Sometimes, a parent will attempt to avoid being ordered to pay child support by quitting his or her job or taking a lower-paying position or an intentional pay cut. When a parent takes these steps to avoid paying child support, the court may take into consideration the income of that parent’s new spouse or even a new partner to whom the person is not married.

A court may also hold such a parent accountable by evaluating that parent’s income potential. The court can look at how much income that parent could have made. This is known as imputing income.

If you want to learn more about child support matters in California, contact the attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger. We can help. Call us today to make an appointment: (415) 293-8314.

Get Ready for Next Tax Year: How Does the IRS Treat Spousal Support?

Get Ready for Next Tax Year: How Does the IRS Treat Spousal Support?

If you are newly divorced or going through a divorce, you may be unsure how the Internal Revenue Service treats spousal support for tax purposes. Many people do not think about taxes until tax time rolls around. Of course, it is wise to be prepared on this issue, as receiving (or paying) spousal support will affect your tax bill and potentially lead to an underpayment that you will need to make up by April 15.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) treat spousal support, also called “alimony,” as income for federal tax purposes. The most important issue is what qualifies as alimony under federal tax law.

Alimony payments must meet all of the following qualifications:

  • The parties do not file a joint return.
  • The payments are made in cash, by check, or by money order.
  • The payment is received either by the ex-spouse or on that person’s behalf.
  • Neither the parties’ separation agreement nor a court decree says that the payment is not spousal support.
  • The responsibility to make the payments stops when the ex-spouse dies or remarries.
  • The payment is neither child support nor part of the parties’ property settlement.

The IRS specifically provides that the following do not qualify as alimony:

  • child support;
  • property settlements that are not made in cash;
  • payments that are intended to be a spouse’s share of community property income; and
  • payments made either to keep up or for the use of the paying spouse’s property.

The former spouse who receives the payments is required to report alimony as income for federal tax purposes. Likewise, the former spouse who makes alimony payments is entitled to a deduction for payments made.

Those who receive payments are required by law to cooperate by providing their Social Security number to the paying party. If receiving spouses do not do this, they may receive a $50 penalty. A party making the payments could not only receive a $50 penalty for failing to include the recipient’s Social Security number but also could see his or her income tax deduction disallowed.

Here are a few trickier situations that require competent financial or legal advice:

  • payments made to a third-party under a separation agreement, a divorce decree, or at the written request of the receiving party;
  • payments for life insurance premiums for the benefit of the receiving spouse, if they are required by court order or a written separation agreement; and
  • certain mortgage, real estate tax, or house insurance payments.
If you are not sure whether to claim alimony as income or a deduction, you should consult with an experienced California lawyer. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Judy L. Burger will provide authoritative legal support tailored to your specific situation. Make the call today to learn how our attorneys can help: (415) 293-8314.