In Uncategorized on 04/02/2018 at 17:44

What we all know cannot be told too often, said a much better writer than I. And we have another example today. Here’s Derrick Davidson and Angela Davidson, 2018 T. C. Memo. 38, filed 4/2/18.

It’s Derrick’s story, his and his loved-once Kelley’s. Was the court-ordered division of joint debt deductible alimony? It doesn’t take Judge Vasquez long to get to the point. AR law isn’t exactly straightforward, but debt allocations aren’t treated as alimony. The aim of alimony is to try to balance the moneyed spouse’s resources with the non-moneyed spouse’s needs, but Circuit Court Judge Joanna Taylor finds that Derrick’s income and resources are “…too speculative to set any kind of time frame on when his income would have to improve for it to inure to the benefit of the Plaintiff [Kelley], the issue of alimony will not be held open to allow Plaintiff [Kelley] to reopen this case and file a petition for alimony in the future.” 2018 T. C. Memo. 38, at p. 4.

Derrick is a lawyer. After fifty-one years at this, I can vouch for the fact that, for at least forty of those years, my income has been “too speculative to set any kind of time frame on when my income will improve.” And this year don’t look too much better. What we all know, part one.

Derrick and current spouse Angela took an alimony deduction for one-half of the joint liabilities Circuit Court Judge Joanna Taylor laid upon him. While Derrick and Kelley were jointly and severally liable for these, Circuit Court Judge Joanna Taylor laid them all on Derrick alone, and says Derrick can’t discharge them in bankruptcy. So maybe if loved-once Kelley died, Derrick could seek contribution from her estate, satisfying the Section 71(b)(1)(D) termination-at-death.

“In setting the amount of alimony, the Arkansas courts primarily consider the financial needs of one spouse and the other spouse’s ability to pay.  The Arkansas courts also consider, as secondary factors, the financial circumstances of both parties, the amount and nature of both current and anticipated income of both parties, the extent and nature of the resources and assets of each party, and the earning ability and capacity of both parties.” 2018 T. C. Memo. 38, at pp. 10-11. (Citations omitted).

AR law was apparently amended after the year at issue to provide that alimony terminates at death, which is nice after all the ambiguity I’ve blogged in the past, but Judge Vasquez finds this was a property settlement, not alimony.

OK, but unless we are AR lawyers specializing in family law, what do we all know?

Judge Vasquez will tell us, as he lets Derrick off from the accuracy chops.

Derrick told his CPA the whole story, and they reasonably relied on the non-discharged-in-bankruptcy language Circuit Judge Joanna Taylor put in her amended order.

Besides, “Petitioner is an attorney, but he does not practice tax law.  See Bursten v. United States, 395 F.2d 976, 981 (5th Cir. 1968) (‘We must note here, as a matter of judicial knowledge, most lawyers have only scant knowledge of the tax laws.’).” 2018 T. C. Memo. 38, at p. 167, footnote 8.

Maybe no penalty, but they can still practice in Tax Court. But we all know that.

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