July 3, 2015

40381718_sIn Colorado Will I Be Held Responsible For My Partner’s Unpaid Taxes After We Marry ?

Generally speaking, the IRS cannot hold you responsible for your partner’s unpaid taxes prior to marriage. Your personal federal income tax liability remains your own, even after marrying another person. You did not acquire the liability or responsibility for a debt of another simply by marrying him or her.

Filing Separately

Although there are many disadvantages to filing separately, there are certain scenarios when filing separate returns may be better for you and your spouse. One of the primary advantages of filing tax returns separately is that you will not face any liability for taxes that are owed by your spouse. In order to protect any tax refund you may be entitled to, you should file as married filing separately instead of filing a joint return. Of course, filing separately may result in a higher tax rate.

If your partner owes a substantial amount of back taxes and you do not wish to be involved, then it would be in your best interest to keep your taxes and bank accounts separate. If your income is currently being deposited in a joint bank account, it is recommended that you instead have all your income deposited into another account solely under your name. Doing so will prevent any creditors from garnishing your wages in a joint account.

While filing separately means that you may not be subject to IRS collection activity for your spouse’s tax liability, keep in mind that you and your family will still be affected by his or her debts. The IRS will likely garnish your spouse’s wages or require installment payments to be made, which means that there will be less money to support your household.

Filing Jointly

If you and your spouse opt to sign a return under the married filing jointly status, then the IRS may apply any tax refunds coming to you and apply it to the your partner’s back taxes. Signing a joint tax return means that before you can enjoy any advantages typically available to couples that file jointly, your tax refunds will first go towards paying for your spouse’s financial obligations until his or her debt is fully resolved.

Even if you and your partner decide to jointly file a tax return, you may still be able to get individual relief and prevent your portion of your tax refund from being applied to your spouse’s bank taxes through an Injured Spouse Claim. As an injured spouse, you may still be refunded for your share of the overpayment that would otherwise be used to pay for your spouse’s back taxes.

Whether or not you decide to file separately or jointly, it is highly advisable to meet with a tax attorney or financial planner as soon as possible. A qualified tax attorney will be able to go over all the details and advise you of your options and all the risks involved.


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