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Old 08-02-2012, 06:26 AM
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former spouse' tax burdon

is it possible for me to be burdened by my spous' tax debt if we are no longer together and havent seen or spoken to one another in 3 years but are still legally married?

Yesterday I was checking my bank account and noticed that my account had been levied for $4,200.00 by the state franchise tax board. I'm 41 years old and I have never owed state taxes greater than or equal $1000 but my (former) spouse is a bartender and therefore receives tips as part of her income. I'm not 100% certain but I believe this levy of $4200 was for HER tax debt, not mine.

Ever since she "walked out" on me, we/I have filed my taxes seperately as "single". I have no idea what filing status she has been using. So my question is: If I file "single" and she files "married - filing seperately" is it possible for me to be somehow burdoned by her tax debt? In other words, am I liable to pay her tax debt, in whole or partially, eventhough we are no longer together and havent even seen or spoken to one another in 3 years?

I have read the information regarding "Innocent Spouse" relief but it appears to only be applicable if we had filed "married - filing jointly". I havent used that filing status since she left and I have NOT signed a joint tax return since she left.

Can I still be relieved from her tax dept under "innocent Spouse" if we filed "single" on my return and she filed "married - filing seperately"?

I'm just wondering how this bank levy could have been attached to me when she is the one that has created the tax debt on her own.

thanks in advance



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Old 08-02-2012, 11:31 PM
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“is it possible for me to be burdened by my spous' tax debt if we are no longer together and havent seen or spoken to one another in 3 years but are still legally married? “----->I guess it depends on the situation.

“Yesterday I was checking my bank account and noticed that my account had been levied for $4,200.00 by the state franchise tax board. I'm 41 years old and I have never owed state taxes greater than or equal $1000 but my (former) spouse is a bartender and therefore receives tips as part of her income. I'm not 100% certain but I believe this levy of $4200 was for HER tax debt, not mine.”---->FOR IRS: If you sign a joint return, the IRS may be able to collect any tax relating to that return from you even if your spouse was the one who reported incorrectly.HOWEVER, you're eligible for relief if you filed a joint return on which there was an understatement of tax due to an erroneous item relating to your spouse;you didn't know, and had no reason to know, about the understatement when you signed the return;looking at all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to make you pay the tax. You apply for relief under this provision within two years after the IRS begins trying to collect the tax from you. In July of 2011 the IRS announced that they would be gentler on innocent spouse relief filings and removed the 2 year time limit to file for this type of tax relief. If you meet all these requirements, then you don't have to pay the portion of tax that relates to this erroneous item. Innocent spouse relief may be available even if you're still married to the spouse who should have reported additional tax. If you have assets of your own and want to protect them from collection by the IRS, these rules determine whether you can be held liable. Innocent spouse relief applies only to tax liability that arises from an "erroneous item." That means you can't use this provision for relief if you sign a correct return and your spouse simply fails to pay the amount shown on the tax return. You don’t get relief if you knew the return was incorrect or even if the court thinks you should have known. Some court decisions indicate that you can't satisfy this condition unless you actually examine the return and ask questions about anything that doesn't seem right. There was one improvement in this rule when Congress changed the law in 1998. Congress made it clear that if you only knew (or had reason to know) about part of the understatement of tax, you're only stuck for that part. If you had reason to believe your spouse was cheating to the extent of a few hundred dollars and it turned out to be many thousands, you should only have to pay the smaller amount..
FOR your STATE; normally you aren't liable for tax relating to your spouse's income if you file separate returns . But if you live in a community property state, you're required to report half of the community income earned by your spouse on your return. The tax law provides relief from liability for tax on community income on separate returns under rules similar to the innocent spouse rule. The tax law also provides that the IRS can impose tax solely on one spouse if that spouse treats community income as his or her own and fails to notify the other spouse of the amount and nature of the income before the due date of the return for that year. The 1998 tax law added a new provision under which the IRS can grant relief where it would be inequitable to collect the tax even though the taxpayer doesn't qualify for relief under the general rule. I don't expect the IRS to use this rule in every instance where the taxpayer feels that the law is unfair.You need to contact FTB of your state.

“Ever since she "walked out" on me, we/I have filed my taxes seperately as "single". I have no idea what filing status she has been using. So my question is: If I file "single" and she files "married - filing seperately" is it possible for me to be somehow burdoned by her tax debt? In other words, am I liable to pay her tax debt, in whole or partially, eventhough we are no longer together and havent even seen or spoken to one another in 3 years?”----> You can’t file your return as single as long as you are still legally married; you need to file your return as HOH or MFS,NOT as single. Your spouse also can file her return as MFS/HOH, NOT single either.

“I have read the information regarding "Innocent Spouse" relief but it appears to only be applicable if we had filed "married - filing jointly". “----->Correct.
“I havent used that filing status since she left and I have NOT signed a joint tax return since she left.”-----> You NEED to file a joint return for the year you want relief; you will not qualify for innocent spouse relief.

“Can I still be relieved from her tax dept under "innocent Spouse" if we filed "single" on my return and she filed "married - filing seperately"?------>As said previously, I guess yu can’t file your return as single as long as you are still legally married; you need to file your return as HOH or MFS,NOT as single. Your spouse also can file her return as MFS/HOH, NOT single either. Separate liability election rule isn't available as you're still LEGALLY married(Since you're NOT divorced or legally separated from your spouse with whom you filed the joint return). You haven't been a member of the same household with that person at any time in the 12-month period ending on the date you filed the election. Community property states treat marital income differently than other common law states. Normally you aren't liable for tax relating to your spouse's income if you file separate returns (assuming there's no fraudulent transfer of assets from your spouse to you) I common law state. But if you live in a community property state, you're required to report half of the community income earned by your spouse on your return. If the IRS determines that the community income earned by your spouse was greater than you thought it was, you can be liable for tax on your share of that income even though you filed a separate return. So, even if you and your spouse file separate returns, each of you has to report half of the community income. In addition, you would report half of the income produced by any property that's treated as community property (for example, savings bonds that are purchased with community income). You would also report the entire amount of any income you have that's treated as your separate income under the laws of your state.I guess you need to contact FTB of your state for more accurate information in detail.



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