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Ask Merlo Your Own Question
Merlo, Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 9783
Experience:  25+ years tax consulting. Specializing in returns for US citizens living abroad
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My husband moved out about a year ago after 30 years of marriage.

Customer Question

My husband moved out about a year ago after 30 years of marriage. There are no legal separation or divorce papers pending. I live in the marital home.   He is in partnership with his father with a large farm/trucking business and several smaller businesses.   His account (husbands cousin) has prepared our usual joint tax return for us to sign , and I did not give him my w-2 he must have got it from the farm....and I want to know about innocent spouse Law? or rule,,, the account says I would not be held liable for farms taxes because of this. I am leary of signing anything with the IRS where I may end up potentially liable for the business in the event of a sudden death etc.,, because we are still legally married. His dad runs the farm and "holds the purse strings" for example I still get a 33$ paycheck from the farm year round for mowing in the summer...which includes a gas key,etc so I really dont want to make trouble as I feel it would negatively impact my finances rightnow
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Merlo replied 8 years ago.
Hello dollymama,

You have the legal right to file a separate tax return from your husband, and if you are concerned that there might be an issue down the road with improper reporting, then this would be your best choice.

You may file for Innocent Spouse Relief, but there is no guarantee that the IRS will accept your application for such relief. Every situation is reviewed independently, and it would just depend on how the IRS agent handling it would view your case. Just the fact that you would be filing this form ahead of the fact, might lead the IRS agent to believe that you had some prior knowledge that a fraudulent return was being filed. If that were the case, your claim as an Innocent Spouse would likely be denied.

Since you have the option of filing a separate return, that is definitely the safest thing for you to do at this point.

If this was helpful please press the Accept button. Positive feedback is also appreciated.

Thank you.

Merlo and other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Relist: I still need help.
Expert:  Merlo replied 8 years ago.
Hello dollymama,

What is it that you still need help with?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
I want to know if I can do the innocent spouse relief ONLY if there ends up being trouble with Irs or if it HAS to be filed now? And I also wanted to know what kind of trouble I could be in with the IRS relating to farm owing taxes, if there were a sudden death, accident etc with my husband or his dad. We are still legally married and have no pending paperwork for separation or divorce at this time.
Expert:  Merlo replied 8 years ago.
Hello dollymama,

You may file the Innocent Spouse form at any time. It does not need to be filed with your current return, and can be filed as you suggest, if and when you feel the need arises.

However, any year that you file a joint return with your husband, if a tax liability arises from the farm or from any other source related to income for you or your husband, you can both be held jointly liable for those taxes. Filing an Innocent Spouse form would not necessarily relieve you of those responsibilities.

Innocent spouse relief is typically granted in a case where a married couple has filed a joint return, and one spouse has reported fraudulent information, without the knowledge of the other spouse. If your spouse is reporting legitimate information, then you would have no grounds to file for innocent spouse relief, simply based on the fact that the additional taxes were due relating to the farm.

That is why I recommend that you file a separate return if you feel this might be an issue.

If this was helpful please press the Accept button. Positive feedback is also appreciated.

Thank you.