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Am I responsible for wife's taxes?

Seattle, WA |

I am married in Washington State (community prop state). We filed separate but married this year. I received a refund and my wife owes several thousand. If she doesn't pay the tax, can the IRS come after me?

Thanks a bunch.

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Attorney answers 4


If you file Married Filing Separate, the IRS cannot come after you for your wife's tax debt. However, if you won any joint community property, a lien may be placed on that property and the IRS may come after that joint property.

I do not practice in a community property state, so there may be some nuances I am not aware of. Therefore, you should consult with a local attorney on this issue.


I would say yes. All debts incurred during the course of the marriage are presumed to be community debts that were incurred for the benefit of the marital community. This certainly holds true for taxes on income earned during the course of your wife's job.


If you had filed a joint tax return, you would be liable for all of the tax whether or not you live in a community property state because of the joint and severable liability nature of the joint tax return. However, since you filed as married filing separately, the rules are different. If your wife does not pay her share and because you live in a community property state, the presumption is that the tax liability is one of the marital community. The IRS would be able to levy on your wife's community property share of all community property. This would include not only assets such as real property and personal property, but also her community property share of your income, etc.

Beary Law Offices PLC is not acting as your attorney in providing this response.

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