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When deciding child support, what counts as income?

Although the Arizona Guidelines for child support include a formula by which Phoenix residents can consistently calculate how much child support they owe, there can still be a lot of controversy between parents as to what numbers should go in to this formula in the first place.

In Arizona, "income" includes just about anything that a person would report on his or her taxes, as well as some other items that one might not even have to pay taxes on. In addition to his or her salary, a person should expect to have items like winnings in games or other prizes, additional bonuses and overtime, if consistently worked as part of a regular schedule, and similar items included as income in a child support calculation.

Not surprisingly, what one earns in his or her own business also counts as income, although calculating this number exactly can be complicated since a person is allowed to deduct some of his or her business expenses from this number.

Likewise, a person's dividends, interest and returns on investment will count as income for child support purposes. Also, money meant replacement employment income, such as workers' compensation, disability benefits and money from retirement plans will get factored in to the child support calculation.

Even though they might not be reported as income on one's taxes, even regular gifts, such as financial help from one's parents or other relatives, count as income for purposes of child support. Calculating this figure can be tricky when the gifts are not cash but some sort of benefit, like when relatives allow a parent to live in a home rent free.

The one significant exception to this rule is that certain types of government benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income, or SSi, and food stamps, do not count with respect to child support.

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