A few years ago my wife and I had separated. It was time to file taxes for 2011 so I filed as "married filing separately" as I had no paperwork or information from her for a joint return. Meanwhile for 2011 she did not file at all.
Years later we were back on good terms and for financial reasons we adjusted 2011's year's filing status to "married filing jointly" instead of "married filing separately" using form 1040X. (Since technically we were still married for all of 2011.) THE IRS ACCEPTED THIS adjusted tax return as well as adjusted the refund for 2011 despite her having not originally filed. I kept copies of all this correspondence.====>>IRS also usually makes lots of mistakes. In general, Once you've filed your tax return as Married Filing Separate in 2011,then, you have 3 years(so by apr 15 2015) from the original deadline to make the change to MFJ to your tax return.ALSO, Once you have filed your tax return as Married Filing Joint by apr 2011, you CANNOT amend your filing status after the April 15th deadline. Any change to filing status has to be done before the deadline. This deadline DOES NOT include any filing extensions.
Now it's 2017 and they are withholding a massive tax refund for last year claiming that she never filed taxes for tax year 2011. How is this possible? ==>I am not quite sure what you mean; however the IRS has 3years to give you a refund. Taxpayers have until the later of 3 years from the date of the original deadline of the tax return or 2 years from the date the tax was actually paid to claim a refund of overpaid taxes from the IRS.For example, your 2011 tax return is due on April 15th, 2012. Add 3years to this filing deadline, and you have until April 15th, 2015 to file your 2011 tax return and still get a tax refund. If you file your 2011 return after April 15th, 2015, then your refund expires. It goes away forever because the statute of limitations for claiming a refund has closed.
If you already filed a tax return, you can claim any additional refunds by sending in corrections with an amended return. Amended returns claiming additional refunds must be filed with the IRS before the statute of the limitations expires three years from the original April 15th due date.
We sent back copies of the accepted tax forms we filed jointly along with THEIR OWN CORRESPONDENCE proving they accepted those forms for 2011 and adjusted the numbers for both of us accordingly. But this is info they already have. What else can we do? We sent this return receipt requested and are now waiting...Technically they are correct in that she never filed a separate return but since they honored a joint return later does it even matter? Lots of money at stake here. What else can we do?=>as mentioned above, there is SOL in claiming your refund; you have until the later of three years from the date of the original deadline of the tax return or two years from the date the tax was actually paid to claim a refund of overpaid taxes from the IRS.