High net worth divorces will be affected by the change in new federal tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which goes into effect after December 31, 2018.
According to The Business Times, couples who are paying alimony and finalize or modify divorce settlements in 2019 or later are going lose the ability to deduct alimony payments from their taxes.
The new law seeks to increase federal revenues by $7 billion by 2029.
How Does This Change in High Net Worth Divorces Work, Based on the New Law?
Often in high net worth divorces, one spouse makes considerably more income than the other. Most commonly, men earn the higher net worth. Under current law, spousal support (alimony) is tax deductible for the spouse paying support and taxable for the spouse receiving support. What typically happens is the high net worth spouse will negotiate a higher support amount for the receiving spouse because the deduction creates a tax savings by moving the high net worth spouse’s income into a lower tax bracket.
The old-law rules will continue to apply for alimony payment agreements made in 2018 or earlier, prior to the 2019 divorce law.
Because the new law eliminated the alimony deduction, higher net worth spouses will probably not be as likely to negotiate higher alimony payments beginning in 2019. This means supported spouses will receive less spousal support, which is in most cases will be the woman. Also keep in mind the fact that statistics show more women initiate divorce proceedings than men.
To avoid paying decades of non-deductible alimony, many wealthy individuals are pushing to finalize their divorces before December 31, 2018.
How Will the Change in the Law Affect Divorce Rates?
There may be a spike in divorce rates before the end of the year. After the new law goes into effect, it is possible that some women who would have considered divorce under the old law may change their minds based on the new law. Women in general suffer financially more than men do after divorce.
If you have questions about divorce, our attorneys at Richardson Brown are glad to answer them and can help you device a legal strategy that addresses issues involving high net worth.