Alimony and Jersey Divorce

The clock is ticking on the new tax law change for divorcees across the United States. Alimony is tax deductible by the person writing the checks and taxable to the person who cashes them. But this will not be so for those divorcing in 2019 and beyond. Our legislators in Washington DC have seen fit to eliminate this tax break, even though rumor has it that the members of Congress pay a lot of alimony! But kidding aside, this change may result in billions in tax revenues for the federal government.

Here in the Garden State our tax authorities and hard working legislators have not gotten around to making any changes to our law, so for those divorcing in New Jersey the tax is still yours to deduct and/or pay, depending on your side of the equation. Lawyers are scrambling to determine how to set alimony for future cases. Alimony decisions in divorce, which were always unpredictable in the best of cases, have now risen to the level of an enigma. For example, if there is no longer a tax benefit to the so-called “monied spouse” for paying alimony, should he/she pay less? Probably. But how much less? And as for the spouse who needs the support to make ends meet–at first glance he/she may think “no tax on my alimony? what’s not to like?” But getting less alimony is never fun.

So what was so great about alimony (prior to 2019)? Well, if the paying spouse was in the 30% bracket, he/she would get a nice tax break. If the recipient spouse was in a low tax bracket, as is often the case, receipt of the alimony would barely make a blip in the tax they owed at the end of the year. Alimony was truly a boon to both divorcees: they were putting one over on the Feds by keeping money in their pocket that would normally go to our least-favorite-uncle (Uncle Sam).

Alas–the party is over. Uncle Sam is here to collect. Who loses? Both spouses.

A Word or Two About Mold

So you’re selling your home and your buyer’s home inspector notes the presence of what appears to be mold in your basement.  Please don’t panic!  At first glance this news is disturbing.  There are many different types of mold and some may be serious.  If you “google” Asperguillius Penicillium you will see that it is the  most common form of mold.  I have seen it in my real estate transactions regularly.  Here is a quote:  “For people with healthy immune systems, breathing in Aspergillus isn’t harmful.” This is from the Center for Disease Control (our amazing government at work!) from the US Department of Health & Human Services–NOT from some crazy, conspiracy theory web site.  Here is the link: https://www.cdc.gov/fungal/diseases/aspergillosis/causes.html

A small percentage of people who have weakened immune systems (or radical surgeries) could be effected by mold.  I’ve actually read that doing a lot of work on your home can increase the presence of mold, presumably because it is disturbed from the surfaces after you rub them, paint them, or clean them.  So by cleaning mold, you can increase it in the air.  Crazy! 

Here is a fact sheet: https://www.cdc.gov/mold/faqs.htm#test

Also, note that mold testing usually does NOT show that you have a higher than usual mold count.  It often just shows that the air INSIDE your home has more mold than the air OUTSIDE your home.  Duh!  I could’ve told you that.  But seriously, I bet if you did this test on every house in New Jersey, you’d see this result a lot.  I’m just guessing here.  But don’t take my word for it–I am not a scientist.  And I’m not a mold treatment specialist.  You need to consult one.

The New Jersey Department of Health says that there are  NO State certification programs for companies performing mold or general indoor air and/or environmental health services.  The Department of Health has a mold information page which links to a list of companies that perform mold remediation services but they do not endorse or qualify the work or services of these private companies. 

Bear in mind that the federal government says there are NO established scientific standards for what is acceptable or tolerable for mold.