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Marriage and Tax Debt: Who Owes the IRS?

Marriage is the ultimate way to legally bind two lives together. That can be beneficial, but when it comes to tax debt it may make things complicated. 

When it comes to marriage, tax debt may be a confusing process to navigate through. According to the IRS, any couple that files a joint tax return is jointly responsible for any taxes owed as well as any additional tax, penalties, or interest that accrues. 

But who pays owed taxes when your new spouse has already owed taxes? What about if the spouse who owes taxes dies or you divorce? Read on to find the answers to these common questions about spousal tax debt here. 

Am I Liable For My Spouse’s Tax Debt If They Are Alive? 

While it can be joyous to intertwine your life with your spouse’s, it’s never fun to get married with tax debt. 

There are a number of factors to consider when it comes to your spouse’s IRS debt. 

If your spouse accrued their debt before your marriage then it will remain their responsibility to repay it. 

However, if your spouse owes taxes accrued during the marriage and you choose to file a joint tax return then both of you will remain responsible for paying off the amount.

If either spouse owes taxes during the marriage but you choose to file separate tax returns then that means that each person is separately responsible for paying any debts owed.

At Karim & Associates, we can also help settle outstanding tax amounts owed with our Offer In Compromise service. 

What if My Spouse Has Died?

If your spouse dies and they owed taxes that can create a complicated situation. 

Unfortunately, if your spouse accrued tax debt while you were married and filing joint tax returns, it means that any debt owed will be your responsibility. 

However, if your spouse accrued debt during your marriage and you had been filing separate tax returns you will not have the burden of paying anything back.

Any year that you file taxes separately means that you will each only be responsible for your individual amounts owed.

What If We Get Divorced?

Divorce is already an unpleasant, sometimes complicated process for most. Adding tax debts to the process can exacerbate this even more. 

If your spouse owes any taxes before your divorce is finalized, then unfortunately you will both be responsible for it. 

However, if you can prove that your spouse has purposely made mistakes on their tax returns without your knowledge, you may be eligible for something called innocent spouse relief. 

Contact A Professional About Tax Debt Today

It can be confusing to figure out who owes tax debt and who doesn’t, even if you have a frequently asked question. That’s why Karim & Associates is available to help you through the process every step of the way. 

While we’ve covered the topic of who owes taxes in a marriage, it’s natural to want the help and guidance of a professional.

Contact us today to let us help you figure out taxes owed during, before, or after a marriage. 

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