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My name is XXXXX XXXXX my wife and I are going through a divorce.

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My name is XXXXX XXXXX my wife and I are going through a divorce. In our divorce agreement I'm suppose to give her a lump sum of $25,000 from my retirement IRA. This money was invested before tax so taxes must be paid when withdrawn. I realize that just transfering the money into a IRA in her name only is my best move because taxes don't apply. My question is if my wife will not agree to this plan will I be better off tax wise to withdraw the money in a check issued to me or a check in her name? Will the money be considered income for me regardless of who the check is made out to?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Finance
Expert:  CGCPA replied 5 years ago.

Welcome to Just Answer. I am here to help you resolve your tax and finance concerns. Please feel free to ask anytime you need extra help.


Hi Paul,

I understand your concern. The way in which you handle this will determine who is to be taxed and on what amount they will be taxed.


If you transfer the money to an IRA for your spouse, you will not be taxed (as you have stated) and she will not be taxed until she withdraws the money. Here is the IRS statement on that. After it I will continue:


Transfers Incident To Divorce

If an interest in a traditional IRA is transferred from your spouse or former spouse to you by a divorce or separate maintenance decree or a written document related to such a decree, the interest in the IRA, starting from the date of the transfer, is treated as your IRA. The transfer is tax free. For information about transfers of interests in employer plans, see Distributions under divorce or similar proceedings (alternate payees) under Rollover From Employer's Plan Into an IRA, earlier.

Transfer methods. There are two commonly-used methods of transferring IRA assets to a spouse or former spouse. The methods are:

  • Changing the name on the IRA, and

  • Making a direct transfer of IRA assets.


Changing the name on the IRA. If all the assets are to be transferred, you can make the transfer by changing the name on the IRA from your name to the name of your spouse or former spouse.


Direct transfer. Under this method, you direct the trustee of the traditional IRA to transfer the affected assets directly to the trustee of a new or existing traditional IRA set up in the name of your spouse or former spouse.


If your spouse or former spouse is allowed to keep his or her portion of the IRA assets in your existing IRA, you can direct the trustee to transfer the assets you are permitted to keep directly to a new or existing traditional IRA set up in your name. The name on the IRA containing your spouse's or former spouse's portion of the assets would then be changed to show his or her ownership.


If you simply withdraw the money and give it to her (NO transfer to an IRA) you will be taxed. However, if you wish to avoid paying the tax and she will not accept a transfer into an IRA in her name, you can transfer it to an IRA in her name and let her do the withdrawal. Then she will be obligated for the tax reporting and payment. It seems the fair thing to me that she is the one to pay tax on the amount she receives.


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