Maintenance payments and tax


If you are separated, you may:

  • Give maintenance payments to support your former partner or children (or both)
  • Get maintenance payments from your former partner

The way maintenance payments are taxed depends on whether they are:

  • Voluntary or made under a legal agreement
  • For the benefit of a former partner or for the benefit of a child

A former partner is:

  • A separated or former spouse or civil partner
  • A former cohabitant you lived with, while not married, for at least:
    • 2 years if you have children together
    • 5 years if you do not have children together

This page explains the different types of payments and how they affect your tax if you are:

In summary, legally enforceable maintenance payments for a former partner are:

  • Taxable for the person getting the payments
  • Tax deductible for the person making the payments

Voluntary maintenance payments are not taken into account in the tax of either former partner.

Maintenance payments for the benefit of your child or children are also ignored for tax purposes.

Types of maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments are payments you regularly make (weekly, monthly or annually) to a former partner under:

  • A court order
  • A deed of separation
  • Any other legal commitment (such as a covenant or trust)

It can also include payments that you are legally required to make on behalf of your former partner, such as a mortgage payment.

Option to be taxed as married couple

If you have a legally enforceable maintenance agreement, you and your former spouse or civil partner can together choose to be treated as a married couple or civil partners for tax purposes. If you write to Revenue to choose this alternative option:

  • The maintenance payments are ignored for tax purposes
  • You are assessed on the basis of separate assessment

Voluntary maintenance payments

Payments you make to your former partner without a legal agreement are called voluntary maintenance payments.

If you make maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments

If you make legally enforceable maintenance payments, you can have the payments deducted from the amount of your income that is taxed.

You can claim tax relief on payments you make for the benefit of your former partner. Payments you make for the benefit of your children do not get tax relief.

You must make the maintenance payments in full.

This does not apply if you and your former partner choose to be taxed as a married couple. In this case the payments are ignored for income tax.

Voluntary maintenance payments

You cannot claim an income tax deduction for voluntary maintenance payments.

If the maintenance payments you make are more than your former partner’s income, you can claim the married person tax credit (but not the increased standard rate band).

If you get maintenance payments

Legally enforceable maintenance payments

If you get a legally enforceable maintenance payment that is for your benefit, you must pay:

You do not pay tax on payments that are specifically for the benefit of your children.

If you and your partner choose to be taxed as a married couple, you do not pay tax on the maintenance payments you get.

Voluntary maintenance payments

If you get voluntary maintenance payments, you do not pay:

You may have to pay Capital Acquisitions Tax if the total amount of the payments is over a certain amount.

How to claim tax relief

There is a Revenue form to Claim for Relief for Legally Enforceable Maintenance Payments (pdf).

If you are claiming for the current tax year, an amended certificate of tax credits will be sent to you and your employer will pay any refund due to you.

If your claim is for a previous tax year or during a period of unemployment, Revenue will pay you any refund due. Tax refunds can be paid by cheque or to your bank account.

Page edited: 24 April 2024