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My current ex-wife, but wife at the time filed her taxes as Head of Household while we were married, what are the consequences?

Southfield, MI |

My ex-wife, wife at the time filed taxes in 2012 prior to divorce in 2013 as Head of Household. We lived in a home I purchased prior to marriage, where the title was in my name only. She took tax documents addressed and sent to me in the mail (i.e., mortgage interest, property taxes, etc.) and used them for her itemized deductions. I am a CPA and law student, thus, I filed a Form 3949-A, an Information Referral to report fraud to the IRS. Also, I reported she understated income by $1,500 as she forged my signature on a check I received from my insurance company. I completed an affidavit to get the proceeds back. I reported this as tax fraud, as I needed these documents to complete my tax return to submit my request for federally funded financial aid. Could there be tax fraud charges?

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I would follow up on the Form 3949-A that you filed with the IRS to ascertain the status of its investigation. Unless your wife's tax understatement for 2012 is at least $20K and she has had a pattern of understating her income for a few years or more, I doubt whether the a criminal investigation will go anywhere. That does not mean, however, that the IRS could not issue a notice of deficiency to your wife, disallowing the claimed mortgage expense and real property tax deductions, and asserting unreported income for the $1,500 insurance check that she stole from you, as well as a civil fraud penalty. Also, did your ex-spouse have any basis to file her return as head of household?

Did you file a 2012 return claiming the mortgage expense and real property tax deductions regarding your real property? If not, you may want to do so. As a CPA, you're well aware that your filing of such a return will almost certainly trigger an audit of both yours and your ex-spouse's returns. Thus, you want to make sure that your return is "lily white."

Finally, you may want to consider bringing to the family court's attention (via a petition or other appropriate pleading) your wife's theft of the $1,500 insurance check from you so that such amount can be offset for purposes of adjusting the property division or your support obligations. In addition, you may want to file a police report with your local gendarmes. If you decide not to pursue the $1,500 via the family law route, you can always sue your ex-spouse in small claims court (although the judge may ask you why you didn't instead pursue your claim in family law court).

Good luck in resolving your problem.

The answer to this question does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Moreover, this attorney is licensed to practiced law ONLY in the State of California. Answers to questions from users in other jurisdictions or states are meant to provide only general information. Users should contact a local attorney in their jurisdiction or state to address their specific tax issue.


From what you stated, it sounds like there could be some kind of fraud claim. However, I doubt the IRS or the Department of Justice would bring charges for such a small case, unless your ex-wife committed some major crime such as money laundering or structuring.

This material does not constitute tax, legal or accounting advice. It was not intended or written for use and cannot be used by any taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding any IRS or NYS penalty. The information contained herein is for informational purposes only as a service to the public, and is not legal advice or a substitute for legal counsel, nor does it constitute advertising or a solicitation. This response is not intended to create, and does not create, an attorney-client relationship between you and the author.

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