taxpayers report their income on a cash basis, meaning you report your income in the year it is actually received and your expenses in the year you actually pay them. So unfortunately you would not be allowed to go back and amend prior year returns
to include this additional income. And there is also no way to "average out" the lump sum payment you received over more than one tax year.
If you paid any attorney fees in connection with the collection
of this alimony, those fees can be claimed as a deduction
since they were paid to recover taxable income
. Other than that, the alimony received will have to be claimed as income in the year you received it.
Hopefully this will not come up again for you where you have to take him to court to get the alimony that is due to you, but if it does, you and your attorney may want to try to negotiate for a higher amount due to any extra tax that this may create for you. That in itself may be an incentive for him to start paying you as he is supposed to.
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Thank you tiff and let me know if you have more questions. I am happy to help you with whatever I can.