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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Tax on maintenance payments

If you make or get maintenance payments and/or child maintenance payments after 6 April 2000 it won't normally have any effect at all on the tax you pay. Only people born before 6 April 1935 who make these payments need to think about their tax position.

If you're receiving payments

The person who makes the payment normally pays you the full amount of maintenance that's due to you. You won't have to pay tax on it.

If you're making payments

If you're making the maintenance payments, you pay the full amount that's due under the agreement or court order. If you and the person to whom you're making the payments were born on or after 6 April 1935 you won't get an allowance for these payments to reduce your tax bill.

People born before 6 April 1935

If you're making payments

You can get an allowance to reduce your tax bill for any maintenance payments you make if:

  • you or your ex spouse or former civil partner were born before 6 April 1935
  • the payments are ‘legally enforceable’ – this means that your ex spouse or former civil partner can take court action if you don’t make the payments 
  • the payments are for the maintenance of your ex spouse or former civil partner (provided they aren’t now remarried or in a new civil partnership)

You can also get an allowance if you make payments to the other parent for the benefit of a child of yours as long as:

  • either you or the other parent were born before 6 April 1935
  • the payments are ‘legally enforceable’, and
  • the child for whose benefit the payments relate is under 21

The most you can get to reduce your tax bill is 10 per cent of £2,670 (for 2009-2010). So you’d pay up to £267 less tax in that tax year.

If you're receiving payments

There's no tax on payments received.

When to declare maintenance payments

You'll only need to fill in details of maintenance payments on your tax return if you or your ex spouse or former civil partner were born before 6 April 1935 and there's a tax allowance for the payments.

Where to get advice

If you need advice on how maintenance payments are taxed, you can contact your Tax Office or phone the HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Self Assessment helpline on 0845 9000 444. Lines are open from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm, seven days a week including bank holidays.

You can also get free independent advice from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), a charity that gives confidential guidance on general, legal and financial problems.

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