How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Tax.appeal.168 Your Own Question
Tax.appeal.168, Tax Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 3453
Experience:  3+ decades of varied tax industry exp. Tax Biz owner
Type Your Tax Question Here...
Tax.appeal.168 is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I am a widow and before my husband died he owed the IRS alot

Customer Question

I am a widow and before my husband died he owed the IRS alot of money for back taxes. When he passed away I found out exactly how much because they are now after me for the taxes. I am terrified bc I don't have that kind of money. I also found out that my belated husband signed my name on the tax papers. I had no knowledge of our tax situation, up until his death he handled such things. Please help! I don't know what I have to do!
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Tax
Expert:  Tax.appeal.168 replied 5 years ago.
Hello, welcome, and thank you for choosing Just Answer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Waiting to address this matter will only makes things worse. Since you had no knowledge of your husbands tax situation, and no knowledge of him signing your name, you may qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief by submitting IRS Form 8857.

By requesting innocent spouse relief, you can be relieved of responsibility for paying tax, interest, and penalties if your spouse (or former spouse) improperly reported items or omitted items on your tax return. Generally, the tax, interest, and penalties that qualify for relief can only be collected from your spouse (or former spouse). However, you are jointly and individually responsible for any tax, interest, and penalties that do not qualify for relief. The IRS can collect these amounts from either you or your spouse (or former spouse).

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

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.

Separation of Liability Relief provides for the allocation of additional tax owed between you and your spouse or former spouse because an item was not reported properly on a joint return. The tax allocated to you is the amount for which you are responsible.

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 correct amount of tax was reported on your joint return but the tax remains unpaid.

NOTE: You must request relief no later than 2 years after the date the IRS first attempted to collect the tax from you, regardless of the type of relief you are seeking. Not all IRS attempts to collect the tax from you will trigger the two year period for filing a request for relief. Collection activities that may start the two year period are:

You must meet all of the following conditions to qualify for "innocent spouse relief":

You filed a joint return, which has an understatement of tax, directly related to your spouse's erroneous items. Any income omitted from the joint return is an erroneous item. Deductions, credits, and property bases are erroneous items if they are incorrectly reported on the joint return;

You establish that at the time you signed the joint return you did not know, and had no reason to know, that there was an understatement of tax, and

Taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax.

To qualify for "separation of liability relief" you must have filed a joint return and must meet one of the following requirements at the time you request relief:

You are divorced or legally separated from the spouse with whom you filed the joint return for which you are requesting relief;

You are widowed, or;

You have not been a member of the same household as the spouse with whom you filed the joint return at any time during the 12-month period ending on the date you file Form 8857 (PDF), Request for Innocent Spouse Relief.

For further detail you can refer to IRS Publication 971. I hope this information helps you.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Where can I get these tax forms to file that you are talking about such as the innocent spouse etc...? Thanks
Expert:  Tax.appeal.168 replied 5 years ago.
You are welcome. The form 8857 can be downloaded from the IRS website., of you can google the PDF copy of the form as well.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your time and I really appreciate you answering my question. This has been plaguing our family since my daddy's death. We have sought answers from JK Harris but he told us nothing about these forms. He basically told us to wait it out and if the 7 years passed then we were in the clear. :(
My daddy has been dead since 2004, is this going to make it to late for her to file innocent spouse or anything else?
Expert:  Tax.appeal.168 replied 5 years ago.
I'm sorry that this has been dragging on for your family. Maybe the firm that you mentioned did not say anything about the forms because the 2 year period has passed.

Unfortunately if your mother was notified of this more than 2 years ago, she will not qualify for the relief. If she does not have the money to pay, she can request a payment plan (installment plan) or she can claim hardship and possibly be put in Uncollectible status.

In order to be declared uncollectible by the IRS you will have to prove to the IRS that if they were to collect the tax that is owed to them it would create unfair economic hardship. The IRS will consider each person on a case by case basis. The IRS doesn't necessarily have a set formula for declaring individuals uncollectible because they will look at maybe only one specific factor or multiple factors combined. If you can answer no to any of the following questions, you are a likely candidate for being declared uncollectible.

If the IRS were to collect taxes owed from you...WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO:

Provide food for yourself?
Pay your mortgage or rent?
Keep retaining utilities?
Obtain transportation to and from work?
Keep your job?
Obtain necessary medical treatments and medications needed?
Obtain a reasonable amount of clothing?
Not lose educational opportunities?

I hope this info helps.
Tax.appeal.168, Tax Accountant
Category: Tax
Satisfied Customers: 3453
Experience: 3+ decades of varied tax industry exp. Tax Biz owner
Tax.appeal.168 and other Tax Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Jax Tax replied 5 years ago.
The IRS removed the 2 year requirement this year. Notice 2011-70 She can file for equitable relief at anytime, but this is not the proper approach. She should file an Identity Theft Affidavit and original returns for all years if required. She states she did not sign the returns. If not, she does not owe. You will need to get hand writing samples that predate the filing of the tax returns to prove that she did not sign the returns. If she did not sign them, they are not valid returns and she is not liable bottom line. Keep in mind, if he signed at her instruction for her, then she signed them.
Expert:  Jax Tax replied 5 years ago.
As a matter of professional disclosure, I do need to mention the possible down side of taking these steps. First, if the signature was forged, the question is why did she not file her own return? A fairly good question if she had any income of her own. If she would have filed separate, would she have owed? Very important to determine before you do anything. The IRS has 10 years to collect a tax debt with so possible extentions like bankruptcy or an offer in compromise. If you dealt with JK Harris, there is a good chance an unsuccessful offer was filed. Did she ever wonder why she had to sign everything if it was not her debt? Back on point. If the IRS tosses the returns and she has to file and owes, the 10 years will start over.
What I would do is have her call the IRS, ask for account transcripts and CSED (statute dates) for each year. Also ask for her income transcripts for each year. Assuming the husband claimed all deductions and dependants, file a simple basic return married filing separate for each year owed to see if she would owe using the income only. No deductions other than the personal exemption. Leave out the standard deduction as well to be on the safe side. If she owes, there may be a reason to not address the signature issue. You state he died in 2004, so the very latest the CSED could be is around 2014 probably much sooner. You also need to ask what the status code on the years are. Are they in collections? Are they in non collectable (status 53)?. If in non collectable there is no threat of levy. Just wait out the CSED. The last thing you want to do is create a situation where returns have to be filed with balances and the CSED restart. If in collections and the CSED is close, tell the IRS, you are mailing form 433f and ask for 30 days to do so.
Expert:  Jax Tax replied 5 years ago.
Please let me know if I can be of additional assistance.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am confused. I was speaking with Angela concerning my question.I appreciate your answers but I don't have 30 more dollars to pay out. I did not know that someone else could pick this up and answer...I thought it would only be assigned to the one agent that I already paid.
Expert:  Jax Tax replied 5 years ago.
You do not have to pay me. You will not be charged more than once. I posted because I do not agree that filing any form of innocent spouse or equitable relief is the way to handle this. I handle dozens of these issue a year. The best way to handle this may be doing nothing more than making a phone call to filing an identity theft petition. Possibly a 656L. But this is ceartainly not to be resolved with an innocent spouse or equitable relief filing.
I am writing purely for informational purposes. Have a good night and let me know if you have questions.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Well God Bless YOU! You don't find many people willing to help unless they are getting something out of it! I really appreciate your help!
With my dad dying it has been hard enough for my mom and now this on top of it.
To explain a little better she only worked maybe the last 2 years of my daddy's life and then she had a surgery go wrong and it cost her her job, her colon and her bladder. My daddy ALWAYS handled everything. It was one of those deals where I am the man and I have this taken care of. He didn't want to worry her with the IRS mess he had gotten them into so she had NO idea other than there was a lean on their house and she knew little of that. When my daddy died tragically my mother was bombarded with all the secrets and the extent of their, excuse me,now her debt.

My mom had NO clue what was going on with the taxes, she didn't ask because my daddy wouldn't have told if she did. Since my daddy died she has paid her taxes 100% every year, she is not one to shirk her responsibilities but she does NOT have the money to hand over to the IRS for something she did not choose to make a mess of. What little money she does have is needed for her to live on without having to depend on anyone but GOD. That is where we stand and we have no clue what to do. None of us understand all this legal stuff, just looking for someone to tell us in plain english what to do...JK Harris charged money to tell her what she had already been told to do for free, it's hard to trust at this point but time is of the issue and we must do something. Does this help any?
Expert:  Jax Tax replied 5 years ago.
The best thing to do is hire a reputable attorney. You can try to qualify her with a local low income taxpayer clinic which is income based or file IRS form 911 for free help regardless of income from the taxpayer advocate service. It is kind of like the public defender of tax. Get the right Rep and everything could be great but again, I would at least call the IRS and get the information above first. The best thing to do may be nothing. If she is having her refund seized every year, she can reduce her withholding and effectively what is seized. Ill be glad to do what I can from here so let me know if you need anything.