Taxpayer asks:

I am a single mom. My ex-husband did not pay support for his daughter for more than 5 years. He just came into some money and has recently paid almost all of his back support to me.

Now I’m worried because my mom says I have to pay taxes on that money. I was hoping to use it to pay bills but I don’t want to use it if I need to save some for taxes.

Thank you for taking the time to answer my question.

Taxgirl says:

As a mom, I like to invoke the “moms are always right” rule – but fortunately for you, that’s not the case here.

Your mom might be thinking about spousal support which is taxable.

But for federal purposes, child support is tax neutral, meaning that you don’t claim it as income and your ex-husband does not get to take a deduction for paying it.

So, go ahead and pay your bills. No tax worries on the child support payment front!

Like any good lawyer, I need to add a disclaimer: Unfortunately, it is impossible to give comprehensive tax advice over the internet, no matter how well researched or written. Before relying on any information given on this site, contact a tax professional to discuss your particular situation.

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Last Updated on


Kelly Erb is a tax attorney and tax writer.


  1. garagefather Reply

    It might not be relevant now but people used to have to claim Child support if the person is going to file for EIC. It is considered unearned income and is used to calculate the real income of a person claiming EIC. My ex got in trouble for omitting her child support income on the EIC, and thus, receiving an EIC payment when her unearned and earned income exceeded the maximum income limit to qualify.
    It might be different today.

  2. As a reminder, if she sought enforcement of the back child support there could be a portion of the award that would be interest on the arrearage or possibly attorneys fees. She should double check her calculations and make sure that the payment is solely for child support. Additionally, she needs to keep whatever court documents that she has to prove that the payments are truly child support in the event of a future examination.

  3. Also in some states if your are getting assistance or special tax credits or refunds for lower income, the child support, while still not taxable, may need to be reported, for eligibility may depend on total household income from all sources.

  4. I have joint custody. It is my ex-husbands year to claim our child on income taxes, but he has only paided one month of child support. Can he still claim her on taxes.?

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