I am in the middle of a divorce. I wanted to file my 2007 income taxes as married-filing separately. My husband has not responded to my inquiries regarding the filing of our 2007 tax returns, so I was planning on filing for an extension.
However, I just received in the mail a copy of a joint tax return my husband filed electronically last week. I did not sign or agree with this joint return. I was not given the opportunity to view the tax forms before they were filed.
My husband lied about his income and expenses in his financial declaration, so I am not confident about him reporting the correct information on our tax returns. Also, my husband has submitted the return with the option of having the refund check automatically deposited into his personal checking account!
My lawyer is in the process of drawing up paperwork requiring that my husband pay me my half of the refund, but given my husband’s behavioral track record (not complying with existing temporary orders, delaying the motion for contempt process, abandoning the family home to foreclosure, wasteful spending, etc.), I fear that I will never see my half of the tax refund without me having to spend an equal amount or more by taking him to court and forcing him to pay it. (To complicate matters even more, my husband also just filed for bankruptcy, so I’m not sure how the money from our tax refund could/would be applied to his bankruptcy settlement.)
Is there anything I can do to stop the joint tax return from being processed, or is there a way to change the tax return so that the refund is not automatically deposited into my husband’s account? What else can I do?
Family Law Attorney
If you want to file using the status married filing separately, you must file before the deadline (15 April). Since your husband has already filed the joint return electronically, you cannot e-file your return. You will need to send a paper copy.
Once the IRS receives both your copy and your husband's return, it will contact both of you because your social security number is on both returns.
Your attorney or you may want to contact the tax preparer to ask the person why the person filed the joint return without your authorization.
If you accept the joint return (by not doing anything), you accept liabilities arising from that return. If the IRS later determines more taxes are due, you will also be liable for the additional taxes.
Family Law Attorney
1. Follow your existing attorney's advice
2. If you didn't sign the joint return, it isn't valid.
3. At the very least, ask for a credit for 1/2 the tax refund in your decree of dissolution.
Estate Planning Attorney
If you believe that your husband might have lied on the tax return, you should contact a tax attorney as soon as possible about how to file for "innocent spouse" relief.
As one of the previous answers stated, a joint tax return requires the signature of both spouses - your husband does not have the legal right to sign for you unless you have given him a power of attorney. Given that he filed electronically, though, it might be a problem to prove that you did not consent to the electronic signature.
Also, you will need to tread carefully in case there's a possibility that he lied on previous joint tax returns - which you presumably did sign willingly. The IRS could decide to examine past years' returns if it suspects fraud.
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