Even though my spouse and I filed jointly, do I bear liability for his or her taxes?
Get Legal Help Today
Secured with SHA-256 Encryption
UPDATED: Jul 15, 2021
It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.
We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.
Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.
When you file federal income taxes jointly, both parties assume the tax liability owed. However, under the innocent spouse provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, a spouse can be excused from tax liability if he or she can prove that they are an innocent spouse, and it would be unfair for them to be held responsible for the tax liability of the other. If you believe you qualify as an innocent spouse, contact an experienced tax attorney.
Under IRS section 6015, an innocent spouse is any spouse who is either legally separated or divorced, but has been listed jointly on their respective spouse’s taxes. While you are personally responsible for verifying your own tax liability, the IRS will not leave you responsible for income that you neither earned nor enjoyed. Under the IRS provision there are three possible scenarios wherein relief will be granted to an innocent spouse:
- The first scenario involves your spouse forcing you to sign the tax document through some form of threat or other forceful persuasion. The legal term for this scenario is duress. In instances of duress, the IRS requires an explanation of the duress for evaluation. Examples of duress situations include threats against yourself, your children, or your property.
- The second scenario is a forged signature. Your signature is considered forged when your spouse signs your name on the tax document without your express consent or against your wishes.
- The final scenario that frees an innocent spouse from tax liability is a circumstance in which the innocent spouse would be injured by the liability. For example, if you and your spouse are divorced and your spouse makes far more money than you, but has filed the income under your name, the tax liability is not actually yours and to be forced to pay the liability would be considered harmful to you.
If you feel your tax liability may fall under the innocent spouse provisions, contact a tax attorney for further information.