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Discovered my husband hasn't filed our taxes for 5 years, and hasn't paid our mortgage, or credit cards in 6 months.

Johnston, IA |

I found empty envelope in husbands laundry. Attorney's office in the return field. Called their office and was informed my home is in pre-foreclosure. Looking deeper I find that all but 1 of our credit/debit cards are 6mo late,and many bills are past due. Husband zeroed out our accounts- including children's. The volatile metals market has devastated our business ;<96% this yr. Prior to learning of any of this, I met with an attorney for a long over-due divorce consult. Apathetic Husband evading my questions- my credit is destroyed- owe 200k on the house,C.C debt is 45K+, 4/ 5 delinquent returns have forfeited est tax deposits that accompanied the extensions. Attorney referred me to credit counseling-they said it was beyond their ablity. What leagal trouble am I/we facing? Is there help?

Attorney Answers 3


I am so sorry for your problems. Consider yourself sort of lucky that you found out, before there was nothing you can do.

The first thing I suggest is finding a tax attorney who understands the difference between "innocent spouse relief" and "injured spouse allocation." You probably could ask this question on the telephone, before making an appointment. No reason to make an appointment, if the attorney doesn't know the difference. (You can go to the IRS web site to search for both terms to get an idea of their meaning, so you'll know if you're getting the correct answer.) I can't quite tell from your question, though, if you will need to file for injured spouse allocations or married filing separately returns. If no returns have been filed, you can file married filing separately to protect your status with IRS, the State, and any locality. If returns have been filed, injured spouse allocations can separate your tax liability from your husband's to prevent you from having to pay for his problems.

Next, you should seek advice from a bankruptcy attorney, if your tax attorney doesn't practice in this area. Your bankruptcy attorney should consult your tax attorney regularly to make sure things get filed in the right order and within the right time frame. You may or may not be liable for all the debts, and this attorney may be able to help you with the pre-foreclosure matter.

Finally, you apparently want a divorce. I cannot tell whether the attorney you consulted referred you to credit counseling in addition to representing you in the divorce or in place of filing for a divorce. In the second, you clearly need to consult another divorce attorney. If the first, that is, in addition to representing you in your divorce, you may or may not need a new family law attorney. I'm leaning towards suggesting a new family law attorney in either situation, but I am not familiar enough with family law to make this suggestion.

Good luck.

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Disclaimer: Please note that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue. This answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. Do NOT rely on anything I have written here -- You should contact a lawyer in your area immediately after reading my posting. The following disclosure is required pursuant to IRS Circular 230: unless otherwise expressly indicated, any federal tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended or written to be used, and may not be used, for the purpose of (i) avoiding tax-related penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related matters addressed herein.

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You really need to find a good bankruptcy lawyer today. Filing a bankruptcy will stay the foreclosure, and may wipe out a lot of the remaining debt, but you will not be able to wipe out the taxes if they are not filed. On the tax issue, there is also no innocent spouse relief for not filing a return under the claim that you thought your husband did it. That being said, it doesn't sound like you will owe much for this year if your business is down that much.

You really do need to find a local bankruptcy attorney and probably should file asap

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4 lawyers agree


I mostly agree with Attorney Omo. But on the issue of the tax liability, BEFORE you go filing for bankruptcy, you need to discuss this matter with a bankruptcy attorney that handles tax matters. You will be told to first file all the tax returns, to have the liability assessed. At that point, there could be some relief for innocent spousal relief. The losses could be carried back to claim refunds for the most recent years, if any taxes have been paid. Or discharge of tax later in bankruptcy.

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Attorney J Anton Collins is a featured Criminal Tax Defense Attorney on Avvo. You may contact Attorney Collins directly at, or 866-340-5055, for more specific answers. This forum is merely for open, public discussion. Discussions in this open, online forum are not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. IRS CIRCULAR 230 DISCLOSURE NOTICE: IRS Circular 230 regulates written communications about federal tax matters between tax advisors and their clients. To the extent the preceding correspondence and/or any attachment is a written tax advice communication, it is not a full “covered opinion”. Accordingly, this advice is not intended and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by the IRS regarding the transaction or matters discussed herein. Each taxpayer should seek advice from an independent tax advisor with respect to any Federal tax issues, transactions or matters addressed, discussed or referenced herein based upon his, her or its particular circumstances.

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