It’s Tax Time—Make Sure You Understand Child Support and Taxes With These FAQs

To help you better understand child support and taxes, we’ve compiled frequently asked questions to shed some light on this complex situation.

Q: Do I have to pay child support with 50/50 custody?
A: Parents with a shared custody arrangement may still be responsible for child support payments. A calculation assuming each parent as the primary caretaker is the first step to determine if child support is necessary. Next, the difference in parental earnings will be calculated (the income from the lower-earning parent is subtracted from the higher earnings). Finally, the difference is the presumptive child support amount the higher-earning parent will pay the other.

For more information about how child support calculations are made, you can refer to

Q: What is the average child support paid per child?
A: Each case is determined according to the families involved. The parental earned income is used to determine payments awarded; therefore, no predetermined average indicates child support per child.

Q: Can child support take your whole paycheck?
A: Child support payments deducted from wages are based on a percentage. Calculations are used to ensure the payor can still meet personal living expenses. As a payor, you are not expected to lose your whole paycheck.

Q: Can your child support be reduced if you have another child?
A: Having another child is not grounds for decreasing existing child support.

Q: Is child support based on gross or net income?
A: Child support in MA is based on gross income from all sources. This is because net pay can easily be manipulated by lowering or increasing their exemptions or contributions to their retirement accounts, for example. Therefore, gross income is used when determining child support payments.

Q: Are child support payments considered taxable income?
A: According to the IRS, child support payments are not considered taxable income. When calculating your gross income to determine if you are required to file a tax return, child support payments received should not be included.

Q: If you pay child support, are you allowed to deduct anything from your taxes or claim the child as an exemption?
A: Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the payee. Therefore, child support is not tax-deductible for either parent. In some cases, the paying parent may be eligible to claim the child as a dependent; however, the custodial parent is treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.

Some agreements include provisions allowing each parent to declare a child dependent when multiple children are involved. Alternatively, the parents can take turns claiming the child.

Q: Is child support considered income when calculating the Earned Income Credit?
A: No, child support is not considered earned income when calculating the Earned Income Credit.

Contact our office today if you have any questions about modifying your custody, child support, or spousal support agreement.

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