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Who Is Liable To Pay Back Taxes When Filing Jointly?

“I didn’t do it! She did!” you say, as you sit in my office explaining the current, messy state of your financial affairs. Let’s say your wife failed to report her income from running a daycare facility out of your home, and since she handles your taxes, you had no idea. Now you’re separated, on the road to divorce, the IRS is calling you more often than your mother, and you need to know your options.

When married taxpayers file jointly, the letter of the law states that both taxpayers are “jointly and severally liable” for the tax, and “any additions to tax, interest, or penalties that arise as a result of the joint return even if they later divorce.”(IRS) That “severally” means that each spouse is entirely responsible for the whole sum of taxes, interest and penalties. So, even if one spouse earned all the income, the other spouse is just as Read more

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