26 U.S.C. §1041(a)(2) states that transfers of property between former spouses are not taxable as long as they are “incident to divorce”. The question is what is the definition of divorce for Section 1041 purposes?
Section 1041 Definition of Divorce: 26 U.S.C. §71(b)(2)
The Treasury regulations specifically refer to 26 U.S.C. §71(b)(2) for the definition of divorce or separation instrument (see Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-7). 26 U.S.C. §71(b)(2) lays out three definitions of divorce or separation instrument:
“(A) a decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a written instrument incident to such a decree,
(B) a written separation agreement, or
(C) a decree (not described in subparagraph (A)) requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse.”
The regulations specifically states that the definition of divorce or separation instrument under 26 U.S.C. §71(b)(2)(A) also includes a modification or amendment to such decree or instrument. Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-7.
Section 1041 Definition of Divorce: Void Ab Initio Annulments
Additionally, for the purposes of 26 U.S.C. §1041, the definition “divorce” is expanded to include divorce annulments and the cessations of marriage that are deemed void ab initio due to violations of state law. Treas Reg §1.1041-1T(b), Q&A-8.
Void ab initio annulments dissolve a marriage retroactively from its very beginning. In other words, the legal outcome of such an annulment is to treat the annulled marriage as if it never happened. While the state law differs from state to state, there are generally four grounds under which a marriage is voided ab initio: bigamy, related parties (i.e. spouses are related within a certain degree of consanguinity or affinity), incompetence and situations where one of the spouses is less than sixteen years old.
Contact Sherayzen Law Office for Help with Tax Issues Concerning a Section 1041 Transfer of Property
If you need help with tax issues concerning a divorce or a transfer of property pursuant to a divorce, contact Sherayzen Law Office for professional legal help.