If I am about to marry someone who has pre-existing tax debt, am I liable for that debt?

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If I am about to marry someone who has pre-existing tax debt, am I liable for that debt?

He owes about 4 years worth of taxes to federal and state. I own the home we are in, he is not on the deed.

Asked on August 14, 2015 under Family Law, Maryland


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You do not become directly liable for his debt: an existing debt does not transfer to a person because of marriage. Clearly, though, it can affect you indirectly:

1) His own personal (non-marital) assets could be targetted, reducing the assets he might otherwise have available for joint or marital use.

2) His wages can potentially be garnished.

3) Creditors might mistakenly go after your assets, forcing you to deal with the situation.

4) His share or portion of marital assets can be targetted (e.g. the money he puts into a joint bank account).

5) If the two of you seek to do some major purchase or investment (real estate, car, etc.) both of your credit reports are typically checked; if his is worse due to the debts, that will affect your joint credit-worthiness.

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