When two spouses file a joint tax return, they are implicitly agreeing that they’re both responsible for any tax debts or penalties—and the IRS will gladly collect the entire amount from one spouse if the other spouse happens to be unavailable. In certain circumstances, the individual from whom the IRS is trying to collect the entire tax bill can file an “Innocent Spouse” defense, essentially claiming that the other spouse cheated, lied, or took inappropriate deductions without informing his or her partner.
As you might expect, the IRS will be vastly more open to your “Innocent Spouse” claim if you are not still happily married to the offending party. The best situation (at least from a tax perspective) is if your spouse has deserted you; then you can convincingly argue that you were innocent of any tax fraud. An ongoing or recent divorce—the more bitter and litigious, the better—will also help your claim, especially if it can be shown that your spouse behaved abusively or has a prior history of fraud. And what about an easy, civil, by-the-books divorce? Well, the IRS may treat this more skeptically, as many spouses believe, incorrectly, that they can somehow worm out of tax debt by filing opportunistic divorce proceedings.
Whatever the circumstances of your Innocent Spouse claim, you need to hire an expert tax lawyer to guide you through this complicated process. Call the law firm of Travis W. Watkins, PC today at (800) 721-7054 for a free consultation!