Question: I’m currently separated from my spouse, who owns his own business, and we are in the process of getting a divorce. I have always filed jointly with my spouse and now the IRS is sending me notices stating I owe $35,000. I have no idea how they are coming up with this amount as my spouse said he was paying the IRS.
Answer: You may be able to avoid this liability entirely under the IRS’s Innocent Spouse Relief rules. Under federal law if an income tax return is signed by both husband and wife, both spouses are 100% responsible for the taxes owed. However, the law permits special consideration where a spouse cannot be held responsible for mistakes that are attributable to the other spouse.
If you meet the following criteria you may be able to apply for innocent spouse relief: Your spouse didn’t report all their income; and you were not aware of it and no reason to know about it when you signed the tax return; and it would be unfair to hold you liable for the taxes owed due to your spouse’s error. If you feel you were deceived by your spouse or tricked into signing a return you thought was correct this will help your case too. There are many other ways you may be eligible for relief under the IRS’s innocent spouse rules and we can help sort this out and determine the proper path for resolution. Don’t pay more than you are legally obligated to.