My Ex Didn’t Report their Income and the IRS Says I Have to Pay the Taxes. What can I do?
As a married person, you might have filed your income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service as “married, filing jointly”. Filing jointly makes sense because it gives you certain tax benefits. However, it also makes you and your spouse jointly and severally liable for all the taxes, interest and penalties that may be due on the joint return, even if you later get divorced. This means that each spouse – independently of the other – can be made to pay the entire debt to the IRS. Also, one spouse may be held responsible for all of the taxes even if the income was earned by the other spouse. This is true regardless of what your separation agreement or judgment of divorce says. A separation agreement and a judgment of divorce are bind you and your wife or husband. The IRS is not a party, and in most situations is not bound by those documents.
What is an Innocent Spouse?
However, if you are an “innocent spouse”, you can ask for relief from the IRS for the taxes, interest and penalties that you might have to pay by virtue of a joint tax return. Generally speaking, you may qualify as an innocent spouse if you filed a joint return but did not know and had no reason to know that the your husband or wife was under reporting income or engaging in more devious violations of federal tax laws. Usually, the innocent spouse becomes only learns to ask for relief when they have gotten a letter from the IRS notifying them of a deficiency and that they owe back taxes.
You are not Alone.
The IRS gets so many requests for Relief as an Innocent Spouse (over 50,000 a year), that it has a dedicated office in the Cincinnati Service Center to handle only these claims. Three types of relief are available: innocent spouse relief; separation of liability from the offending spouse; and equitable relief. The spouse requesting relief is not required to figure the tax, interest, and penalties that qualify for relief. The IRS will figure these amounts after the requesting spouse files Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief.
What You can Do.
If you think your ex-husband or ex-wife might have tried to pull the wool over your eyes – and the eyes of the IRS – and you think you might be held responsible for it, contact Michael (Mike) W. McConnell at Cannon Law, P.C., in Waynesville, North Carolina, for prompt, professional legal regarding for your separation and divorce issues.