Starting in 2019, for the first time in 77 years, alimony won't be deductible for U.S. taxpayers, thanks to the Republican tax overhaul passed in December. That means that the new tax law "could soon lead to a surge in married couples calling it quits," Politico reports, citing divorce lawyers. "Now's not the time to wait," said Mary Vidas, former chairwoman of the American Bar Association's family law section. "If you're going to get a divorce, get it now."
For wealthy divorcés, especially, the deduction meant they could pay roughly 60 cents for every dollar of alimony. Divorce lawyers say the change in the tax law could lead to more contentious divorce cases and lower alimony payments when it kicks in, disproportionally hurting women. But ending the deduction is also projected to raise $6.9 billion over 10 years, helping defray the $1 trillion-plus cost of the tax bill. "This is one of the many provisions of the law that removes special rules applicable only in certain circumstances in order to help simplify the code and reduce tax rates for all Americans," said a spokesman for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas), who put together much of the tax legislation.
Couples have all of 2018 to "use the alimony deduction as a bargaining chip in their negotiations with estranged spouses," Politico says, but in some states, the clock starts running down fast, thanks to cooling-off periods of up to six months. "You can't just file for a divorce today, and expect that you're going to be divorced tomorrow," said Los Angeles lawyer Ed Lyman. You can read more about the ramifications for divorce settlements at Politico.