After my divorce, I found out my wife was cheating on our joint taxes without my knowledge or consent. Now the IRS is coming after me, but I'm embarrassed to admit I let my wife manage our finances. What should I do?

In this situation, a macho attitude—“I was the male of the household, I should have been in charge of our finances!”—will do you absolutely no good.

First of all, the revenue officer appointed by the IRS has no interest in determining who “wore the pants” in your marriage; all he's after is the back taxes you and your wife owe. And second, if your wife was the one who illegally withheld income or took fraudulent deductions, all you'll be doing by personally taking the blame is lightening your own wallet, and possibly letting her get off scot-free.

Third, and most important, society (even in Oklahoma) no longer expects a man to be the main breadwinner of his family; he is not obliged to earn more than his wife. If you can make a coherent case that your ex-wife cheated on your taxes without your knowledge, you may be eligible to file an “innocent spouse” claim with the IRS.

If this claim is accepted, the government won't hold you responsible for the bill. Of course, in order to make this claim believable, you will have to prove that you were kept in the dark about your ex-wife's financial shenanigans, and your case may be severely prejudiced if you signed off on your joint return without reading it (unless you can prove that your spouse forged your signature, which is not an uncommon circumstance).

Are you an Oklahoma resident who is being held accountable by the IRS for the financial misdeeds of your spouse? Call the Oklahoma innocent spouse tax experts at Travis W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) to find out what we can do for you!