Taxpayer asks:

Dear Taxgirl:

Do I have to file if I receive Alimony less than 8000 a year?
and that is all I made?

taxgirl says:

The first part of your question is easy: you report alimony received on your federal income tax return no matter what the amount. There is no reporting threshold.

The second part of your question is kind of tricky. Technically, assuming you are under age 65, filing as single, and not being claimed as a dependent by any other taxpayer, the $8000 is below the income limit for filing. But (and there are all kinds of buts here) your question raises a lot of other issues.

The IRS is going to be aware that you received the $8000 because your ex-spouse will claim the alimony on his tax return as a deduction and list your Social Security Number alongside his deduction. So, you’re on their radar and it feels like it could be an audit trigger.

Compounding your situation is that the amount of money you are claiming in alimony – but nothing else – is below the poverty level for one person. I don’t know what other assets, etc., you have but your situation may, in fact, raise some eyebrows if the right (or wrong) person starts poking around. Remember this woman who was considered by the IRS to be “too poor” to support her kids? The numbers she offered didn’t make sense to the IRS.

Again, I don’t know your situation but I would highly recommend consulting with your tax professional or your divorce attorney before making the final decision to file or not (you also want to confirm that it is, in fact, alimony and not something else). On a pure numbers basis, it sounds like you might be okay. But I think that failing to file may cause more trouble than it’s worth.

Before you go: be sure to read my disclaimer. Remember, I’m a lawyer and we love disclaimers.
If you have a question, here’s how to Ask The Taxgirl.

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Kelly Phillips Erb is a tax attorney, tax writer, and podcaster.

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