IRS Fraud on Joint Tax Returns?

Asked over 3 years ago - Ridgewood, NY

While I was going through a divorce with my ex spouse, he signed my name to two joint tax returns which were transmitted through E-file. The first one was 3 yrs ago, the second 2 yrs ago. I never gave my consent for him to sign my name since I was a stay at home mom and didn't think I needed to continue to file a joint return with him. I continuously complained to my divorce lawyer about this who didn't do anything to protect my interests and my ex spouses lawyer felt he should keep the money, knowing he forged my name twice. The judge wanted proof that he used the money for household expenses which my X's lawyer claimed he did but nothing was brought to court and the judge believed his testimony! My lawyer failed to do any discovery on this. Can I do anything?

Attorney answers (4)

  1. Peter J Tomao

    Contributor Level 14

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It's hard to understand your problem from the facts you posted. If you are complaining that your X kept the tax refunds, your only remedy was probably through the divorce proceedings. If you are concerned that your X filed fraudulent joint returns, you should consult an attorney you protect you from prosecution. You can reach me through Avvo if you would like a consultation.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

    Circular 230 Disclosure: Pursuant to U.S. Treasury Department Regulations, I am now required to advise you that, 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. A taxpayer should seek advice based on the taxpayer’s particular circumstances from an independent tax advisor.

  2. Ayuban Antonio Tomas

    Pro

    Contributor Level 20

    2

    Lawyers agree

    1

    Answered . Although he shouldn't have signed your name without your consent, I doesn't sound like there was any fraud involved as far as the tax return itself. If there was fraud involved on the tax return, then you should consult with a tax attorney and file for innocent spouse relief right away. However, that doesn't seem to be the case here.
    If I understand you correctly, the "money" you are referring to is the additional money your husband received in the form of a refund or reduction in taxes as result of filing jointly with you, as opposed to filing married/separate. The difference between the exemption/deduction amounts he received adding you to the return and the amounts he would have received had he not added you don't likely add up to much.
    To give you an example, lets assume we're talking about tax year 2008. The standard deduction for someone filing married/separate would be $5,450. The deduction for a married couple is double that, $10,900. So there we have an added deduction of 5450 as a result of adding you to the tax return. In addition, he added your exemption amount which provides for an additional deduction of 3500. In total, your husband got an additional deduction of $8,950 by adding you to the return. HOWEVER, if your husband did not take the standard deduction, but rather itemized his deduction (as most people who have a mortgage and other regular expenses do), then he did need the larger standard deduction of $10,900. If that was the case, then the only benefit he got was an additional deduction of 3500.
    LETS JUST ASSUME that he got the full benefit of $8,950 for argument's sake. How much money did he really see from this??? A deduction simply reduces your TAXABLE INCOME. So to determine what the real benefit is, you have to know what your applicable tax rate was. Lets assume for purposes of this question that your tax rate was neither the highest, nor the lowest. We shall use a number in the middle, 25%. Assuming the applicable tax rate was 25%, then the additional refund/tax savings your husband received would have been $2,238. I would want to know if he did in fact receive a refund, or if the tax bill was simply lowered as a result. Depending on this information, as well as the other terms of your divorce/separation decree, it may not be worth pursuing.
    You don't seem to be happy with what your lawyer has done, so perhaps you should consult with another attorney and present all the information so you can make an informed decision.

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT LEGAL ADVICE. They are provided for informational purposes only. Actual legal advice can only be provided after consultation by an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.

  3. James C Underhill Jr.

    Contributor Level 14

    2

    Lawyers agree

    Answered . A little bit more.

    If you are just upset that your ex got the refunds and spent them, well that is a problem in divorce.

    However, if the returns are wrong, or there was a ton of tax owed and you don't feel you should be responsible for the tax, then see a good CPA or tax lawyer. You may be an "innocent spouse" who is not liable for the taxes.

    Finally, if the taxes are his because of his work or his business, or his failure to pay his taxes prior to marriage, your divorce lawyer should be able to get an order requiring your ex to pay those taxes.

    Some attorneys sell unbundled legal services where you pay for just what you need and can afford. For example, some attorneys will give you an hour or two at a set price to review your lease and give you advice based on the law, prepare letters for you to sign, or sell the paperwork for the court filings; then you can proceed on your own, but knowing that your paperwork is correct.

    Good luck. jim
    www.NeighborhoodLawOffice.com

    NOTICE— The Legal Information contained in this answer is provided solely for informational purposes to assist the layman with understanding legal issues, and is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship between you and me or my law firm. Such Legal Information is intended for general informational purposes only and should be used only as a starting point for addressing your legal issues. It is not a substitute for an in-person or telephone consultation with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction about your specific legal issue, and you may not rely upon such Legal Information. You understand that questions and answers or other postings to the Site are not confidential and are not subject to attorney-client privilege.

  4. Henry Daniel Lively

    Contributor Level 20

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . If the tax returns signed by your husband are correct other than the signature, no real damage was done to you here. If there is a problem with the return you should consult with a tax attorney and consider innocent spouse relief or other remedies that may be available. If your concern is the refund and how it was used this should have been a concern of your divorce attorney. If your divorce is final then file as single or head of household (which ever applies to you) going forward.

    Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.

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