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Can I be forced to pay a income tax debt my husband incurred before our marriage?

Hutchinson, KS |

After I married my husband , he was charged with back income tax for not having taxes deducted from his earnings. This happened before our marriage and he isn't paying on it.

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Attorney answers 4


While you are not directly responsible, if you file your federal income tax return jointly with your husband and you both have a refund, the IRS will take it because your husband's name is on it. Also if the IRS starts collection efforts, anything with your husband's name on it is fair game.


You are not responsible for your husbands tax debt prior to marriage. However, you should not file a joint return, and you should keep your assets you bring into the marriage as your separate property until he clears this problem up. Otherwise, you may have assets subject to seizure in the future.

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.


Generally speaking, assets and accounts held jointly with your husband may be accessible for properly filed tax liens or levies, and if you've filed jointly your refund owed is up for grabs as well. In either event, it is prudent to get your husband in tax compliance and avoid adverse impact on credit histories and cash flows. Your husband may be racking up penalties and interest making the situation far more costly. You may want to seek advice from a tax advisor to go over your specific facts and circumstances.


The information in this answer is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this communication should be taken as legal advice for any case or situation. Nothing herein is intended as legal advice. You should not rely upon any information as a source of legal advice, and your receipt or viewing of any such information does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and James E. Pratt.

IRS Circular 230 Disclosure: To comply with requirements imposed by the IRS, we inform you that any U. S. federal tax advice contained herein (including any attachments), unless specifically stated otherwise, is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purposes of (i) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code or (ii) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter herein.


You are not responsible for this debt. However, if the IRS takes collection action against your husband, you may be indirectly affected if you file a joint return and/or have a joint bank account with him. You may want to consider filing married/separate and maintaining separate bank accounts until he gets his tax situation cleared up.

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.

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