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Merlo, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 9783
Experience:  25+ years tax consulting. Specializing in returns for US citizens living abroad
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I am currently going through the process of a divorce and in

Customer Question

I am currently going through the process of a divorce and in the course of gathering financial information have discovered that my husband was depositing large (several thousand) amounts of money in an account I knew nothing about and despite his claims that his only source of income was his job he clearly was getting money from somewhere else. All efforts to get him to reveal the source of this money have failed and he has also refused to supply bank statements for an 11 month period in 2006 - which is just before he filed for divorce . I am British and pretty much let him handle all our finances - including filing our joint tax returns for the years up to and including 2006. When I reviewed our returns for that year he only listed his income as being from the job he had but now we are in the "discovery" process I'm concerned that all these "hidden assets" will be revealed and I might somehow be liable for either back taxes or filing false tax returns. Should I contact the IRS? Help!
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Merlo replied 8 years ago.

Hello Sandra,


Both spouses are usually liable for tax owed to the IRS on a joint tax return but one spouse may be able to avoid tax liability to the IRS through the application of what has come to be known as the "innocent spouse doctrine." Under this tax doctrine, a spouse may be excused from tax liability to the IRS for tax and/or tax penalties.


The 1998 tax law broadened the definition of "Innocent Spouse Relief" so that relief from IRS tax liability is now more available for those spouses who filed tax returns jointly, yet the circumstances demonstrate that it would be unfair for the IRS to hold both spouses equally responsible for the joint tax liability. In many of these tax cases, a spouse is relieved of responsibility to the IRS for tax, interest, and tax penalties on a joint tax return. This is called innocent spouse relief.


Under the circumstances of what you have described, you should file a claim for Innocent Spouse Relief with the IRS.


I am giving you a link below to IRS Publication 971 which will give you complete details on how to file this form.


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