What To Do If Your Spouse Underestimated Your Income Taxes

Paying taxes ranks right up there with planning a funeral. The subject of income taxes is a thorn in the sides of most Americans every April, and sometimes seems to see end. The hope is that once the dust settles a refund will be forthcoming, but that is not always the case. This is especially true when your spouse is responsible for preparation of your income taxes, and odes so in a way that is inaccurate or dishonest. If you are in the middle of a divorce, one of the issues you will want to shore up is who is responsible for taxes, and when. You will certainly want to have this important issue determined if your spouse has taken steps to trick the IRS or report an income that is less than what was earned.

Facing tax issues during divorce only adds to the complexity of your case. But you can resolve these issues in your favor and with little fanfare if the right approach is taken. In the instance of an income tax return that underestimates your income, you do have options. When your spouse is solely responsible for filing the return and has reported things in an inaccurate way you can seek to have the liability for the error placed squarely on the shoulders of your soon to be ex. IRS Publication 971 provides a remedy for this situation if the tax return with too little income reported is a joint return. Your return must also underestimate the joint income as a result of reporting income inaccurately, or by taking deductions to which you are not entitled. When this happens at the hands of your spouse, you can seek to escape punishment by the IRS.

A word of caution though, you must also be able to prove you did not know your spouse filed a tax return with inaccurate information. A common factor used to establish your stats as an “innocent spouse” is the existence of separate checking accounts. Even in that instance, time is of the essence. You only have a certain amount of time to make an innocent spouse claim. If you miss the deadline, you are not allowed to make a claim later. The relevant time frame is 2 years from the date the taxes are due. There are exceptions to this rule, and a well thought out legal analysis will reveal not only if you qualify as an innocent spouse, but will also determine if you are in time to make the claim. Call our office to find out if you qualify.

For more information on how tax issues interact with divorce principles, call an experienced family law attorney for answers to your questions. Call today to schedule an appointment.

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