If you are married in the state of Oklahoma, the IRS may choose to hold you liable for your partner's unpaid tax debt. After all, the institution of marriage confers certain economic privileges (such as any savings you realize by filing a joint tax return), so it makes sense for the IRS to seek redress from both parties for fraudulent deductions or active tax evasion. What is your recourse? Well, you can claim to be an “innocent spouse”—but you have to do it correctly!
In the Eyes of the IRS, not All Spouses Are Equally “Innocent”
Essentially, an innocent spouse claim is a declaration that you were completely unaware of your partner's financial shenanigans, either because you were separated, estranged, or in the process of divorcing—or, if you were still happily married, but your spouse took it upon himself to launch some crazy financial scheme without your knowledge or consent.
What factors can cause the IRS to look askance at your “innocent spouse” claim? Well, this strategy is unlikely to succeed if:
- The government can prove you aided and abetted your spouse's tax malfeasance (say, by allowing certain property to be transferred to your name).
- An IRS revenue officer determines that your lifestyle did not match your spouse's declared income, and you should have been aware of this fact.
- You signed the return on which your spouse cheated on his taxes, or did not declare income (it may, rarely, be possible to claim that a spouse forged your signature, but the IRS will be very dubious).
- The IRS determines that your current separation or impending (or recently completed) divorce is a cover story to avoid being held accountable for back taxes.
- The revenue officer assigned to your case simply has a gut feeling you are lying to him, and you were in on your spouse's scheme from the start.
Always Consult a Lawyer Before Considering an “Innocent Spouse” Defense
Even if all the evidence points in your favor—your husband deserted you, he had offshore bank accounts of which you were unaware, he forged your name on a tax document—you still need an experienced lawyer to make an “innocent spouse” defense stick with what is bound to be a very suspicious IRS revenue officer.
For answers to your questions, call the Oklahoma innocent spouse experts at Travis W. Watkins, PC (800-721-7054) to request your free case consultation today!