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Preventing tax problems after divorce

For some California residents who have gone through a divorce, a former spouse may be shocked by receiving notice of a large back tax liability dating to their marriage after the divorce decree has been issues. Even if the tax debt arose due to their spouse's dishonesty on the return, the IRS may hold them liable anyway for the debt if they signed off on the filed joint tax return.

People often make the mistake of giving complete responsibility to their spouse to complete and file their tax returns, often just signing off on them without review. When a marriage is falling apart, a spouse may decide to run up a tax debt unbeknownst to their partner. Sometimes, people do this in order to get revenge, while in other cases, the person may be doing this to squirrel away the extra money for themselves, knowing that their spouse will be held responsible for at least half of the debt they incur.

The IRS may hold the higher-earning party completely liable for the incurred tax debt, even if it was due to the actions of their former spouse. It is important that people order transcripts of their returns from the IRS and have them reviewed to make certain their spouses did not incur liability in this way. People may want to consider filing separately so they can avoid potential tax liability based on their former spouse's dishonesty.

If a tax debt is discovered while the divorce is pending, the person may want to petition the IRS for relief as an innocent spouse. They may then wish to discuss the issue with their family law attorney. An attorney may make certain that the tax debt is taken into account in the community property division phase by moving the court to assign complete responsibility for paying it to the spouse who incurred it.

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Victoria S. Linder Law Office
5303 Folsom Boulevard
Sacramento, CA 95819

Phone: 916-905-4805
Fax: 916-498-0127
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