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Will my husband's over 1million IRS debt be my responsibility if he pass away?We have separate bank account, separate tax filing

San Francisco, CA |

My fiancee had over 1 millions IRS debt as he never filed tax return since year 2000 until now. He and IRS already reached agreement that IRS deducts few hundreds bucks from his social security retirement income (even more than 15%, which is surprising to me). We will get married soon and already have pre-nup and have separate bank account, will do separate tax filing.
- With all above, I assume IRS wont be able to come to me to pay his debt. Am I right ?
- If one day he pass away and I claim survivor benefit from his social security income, will IRS still deduct his debt on his survivor benefit paid to me?

Attorney Answers 5


  1. Why do you see the need to marry this man!? Once you are married all your subsequent income becomes community property. While the prenup and the "separate" arrangement smight work (I have been successful with this approach), you are playing with fire. One slip, and your income and assets will be subject to his tax debts.

    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. The answer to question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation. Mr. Smith is licensed to practice law throughout the state of California with offices in Los Angeles County. He is authorized to handle IRS matters throughout the United States, and is also licensed to practice before the United States Tax Court. His phone number is 323-292-4116 or his email address is philsmithjr@worldclasslawyers.com.


  2. You're asking so very good questions - the answers depend on the specifics of how the pre-nup and other documents and accounts are setup. Would strongly recommend that you set down with your own attorney to make sure all is in order before the wedding takes place. Otherwise you could end up with some very unpleasant surprises. They can also answer your questions about social security.

    Good luck.

    Evan A. Nielsen is licensed to practice law in California and handles federal tax matters throughout the U.S. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for a particular matter. This response does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult an attorney.


  3. Messrs. Smith and Nielsen have given you good advice. You should hire one of them before you go further.


  4. As you are not now responsible for the debt, then you should never become responsible for the debt. I would file taxes separately and be aware that the IRS has held people responsible who are not, and that discussing possible outcomes with a tax attorney now may save you headaches down the road.

    Anastatia Quirk Ellis, Esq. is licensed to practice law in Florida, Massachusetts and U.S. Tax Court, This answer is provided as general information and does not initiate an attorney-client relationship.


  5. Since your fiancee incurred the liability prior to marriage, you would not be liable for his income tax debt. However, since California is a community property state, if you do get married to him without a prenuptial agreement, then the IRS can collect from you to pay off his debt.
    If you do decide to marry him, take the advice of my colleagues and consult an attorney to make sure that the prenuptial agreement effectively separates your income and assets. It will also be wise to keep separate bank accounts. Since he is on an installment agreement currently, the IRS will not seize his property. But in the event that he defaults the agreement, the IRS can potentially levy your bank account or other financial accounts if his name is also on the account.

    Anna Barsegyan (818) 396-8272. The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice since not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.

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