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My estranged husband filed a tax return without my consent and kept all of the money, is that illegal?

Fontana, CA |

My estranged husband left our home in July 2011 we have one child together and I have two from a previous marriage. He has not given me any spousal or child support and i was unemployed for all of 2011. He filed, married filing jointly and claimed he supported all of the children the whole year even though it was only half of the year and he kept the whole refund. Is that illegal? Especially since two of the children are not his? Is there legal recourse?

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Attorney answers 3


Your husband cannot legally file a return on your behalf without your permission. You should contact the IRS' identity protection unit at (800) 908-4490 and consider filing your own tax return. However, if your sole goal is to get the refund from your husband, you should post this action in the family law/divorce section.

Andrew J Wyman


He cannot file with you as married filing jointly without your signing the tax return. The best manner in dealing with this is through your divorce proceedings. In the short term, you shoiujld be going to Court to demand spusal and child support. You can get aid from legal aid or groups that support women in these situations. When you divide your property, the refund should be considered in the division of property.

In terms of changing the jointly-filed return to a separate return, you may be better off in the long run, to leave it be. Your time and energy is probably better focused on the family law side of the equation rather then the tax. Your joint refund probably exceeds the total of what the two of you would have gotten with separately-filed returns.

Good luck.


Marty Davidoff,, 732-274-1600. This answer is provided for general information only. You should seek advice from an attorney or tax professional.


A joint return cannot be legally filed with you unless you consent and sign the return. You can file as married filing separately, but as the other attorney pointed out, this may not be to your benefit. You need to consult with a family law attorney about your situation and get this situation handled through the family law court.

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.