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Barbara
Barbara, Enrolled Agent
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 2863
Experience:  18+ years of experience in tax preparation; 25+ years of experience as a real estate/corporate paralegal.
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My ex-husband stopped paying taxes and all support before

Customer Question

My ex-husband stopped paying taxes and all support before our divorce was settled. In our settlement he took the responsibility for the back taxes as well as a monthly settlement. Now he is terminally ill and the IRS is coming after me. I barely make enough to keep my housing and car paid for. His support stopped when he lost his job and didn't get another one.
Is there anything I can do to protect myself from a lifetime of indebtedness?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Barbara replied 1 year ago.

Welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you.

First, let me say I understand how difficult it must be for you to be in this situation because of the action/inaction of your ex-husband.

When filing jointly, both taxpayers are jointly and severally liable for the tax and any additions to tax, interest or penalties that arise from the joint return even if they later divorce. Joint and several liability means that each taxpayer is legally responsible for the entire liability. Thus, both spouses on a married filing jointly return are generally held responsible for all the tax due even if one spouse earned all the income or claimed improper deductions or credits. This is also true even if a divorce decree states that a former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns. In some cases, however, a spouse can get relief from joint and several liability.

There are three types of relief from joint and several liability for spouses who filed joint returns:

  1. Innocent Spouse Relief provides you relief from additional tax you owe if your spouse or former spouse failed to report income, reported income improperly or claimed improper deductions or credits.
  2. Separation of Liability Relief provides for the allocation of additional tax owed between you and your former spouse or your current spouse from whom you are separated when an item was not reported properly on a joint return. The tax allocated to you is the amount for which you are responsible.
  3. Equitable Relief may apply when you do not qualify for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief for something not reported properly on a joint return and generally attributable to your spouse. You may also qualify for equitable relief if the amount of tax reported is correct on your joint return but the tax was not paid with the return.

Based on the information you provided, it appears you may qualify for Equitable Relief. The following link contains excellent information which you will find helpful:

https://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc205.html

Please let me know if I can assist you further.

Thank you and best regards,

Barb

Expert:  Barbara replied 1 year ago.

Just following up with you to see if you have any other questions. If so, please come back to me here at your convenience, and I will be happy to assist you. If not, please take a moment to rate my answer since that is the only way I receive credit for answering you and alerts Just Answer to compensate me for a portion of the fee you previously paid.

Best regards,

Barb