Washington Law Review


Kay Brown


In Jacklin v. Commissioner, the Tax Court addressed a dispute concerning the deductibility of alimony payments under a separation agreement that did not specify a dollar amount. Under this agreement, the payor spouse was to pay to the recipient spouse whatever funds were necessary to sustain the standard of living which she had previously enjoyed. The court held that this agreement was sufficiently precise under section 71(a)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code to allow the payor spouse to deduct the payments. This Note explores the legal tensions created by the court's decision. It asserts that the decision blurs the line between voluntary and obligatory payments and creates practical problems for all concerned. The Note then addresses the court's primary reason for its decision: its fear that the requirement of a specific dollar amount of alimony would be a trap for the unwary. Finally, it proposes that the problems created by the Jacklin decision can be resolved by requiring the separation agreement to state a dollar figure for support.

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