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DH now owes the IRS, can they come after me?

iamlosingit's picture

So as if my DH financial problems (caused by him) can't get any worse...last month he has paid me about $500 of the +$2000 he owes me since we bought the house. I immediately put it back into my savings. I was getting hopeful that his finances would be getting back on track.
Just last week DH got a letter in the mail from the IRS stating he owes them about $950 and they want it repaid by Jan 16th or they are going to apply more late fees and delinquent payment fees. This is from his taxes from 2014, he claimed 6 for federal/state during the month he received his annual bonus and it took him over 3 months to change it back. Somehow even though he owed, he was able to file his taxes from 2015--2016 and get a refund. I'm confused by this since he owed about $650 in 2014 why they didn't just subtract it from his refund the last 2 years. Now on top of the 650 he owes late fees and delinquent fees bringing the total to $950. We have only filed our taxes once since we got married and I was adamant that we file separately. We both lost a lot of our refund doing it separate but if BM takes DH back to court I don't want my income coming into play for his CS.
Since we have only files separate can the IRS come after me if DH doesn't pay it by the deadline?

Acratopotes's picture

I want to know as well, but on Mars... nope your tax issues has nothing to do with any one regardless if you are married or not,

ESMOD's picture

If you are an innocent spouse and were not party to the mistake in his prior return then you wouldn't be liable. Only if they found you were somehow complicit in attempting to evade taxes would you be roped in.

It's possible that he got those other refunds because there was an error in his 2014 filing that was only recently caught.. but they still charge the penalty and interest.

It also might just be an excuse from him to not pay what he owes you right at Christmas too...

iamlosingit's picture

I don't think it's an excuse, he said he's not buying anyone (ss included) any gifts this year until his debt is caught up. Personally he went overboard on ss Christmas of 2015 (flatscreen TV, game console, ton of games with it, pet fish, and ss just had that ridiculous expensive bday party last month) I think he will live.

SneezyPepper's picture

If you filed jointly in the year of the error, yes, bc it's your debt too.

If not, it depends on your definition of "come after"--if he has an option to have it paid back from a refund when he files this year and you file jointly, technically it's coming from you as well bc you have a joint refund. If neither of those conditions apply, probably not. Though I will caution you that if he lets it go too long, the IRS may garnish his wages (I used to work in this field) and it will come out of his weekly paycheck. 10 years ago, the IRS could take 50%+ of net pay, and I've seen them collect debt as old as 20 years. Do not let him eff around with this, he has the option to set up a reasonable payment plan with them.

iamlosingit's picture

This debt is his from when we were dating 3 years ago. We were married in 2016 but I refused to file together that year. Thinking it's a good idea to keep it separate in the long run.

strugglingSM's picture

If you weren't married, they can't hold you accountable for the debt.

I think that if you file separately, they also can't hold you accountable for that.

I know if you file jointly, they will take your refund to cover his debt.

BM worked as an independent consultant while she and DH were married. She wouldn't pay any of her required taxes during the year, so always had a huge balance at tax time and they always took DH's refund to cover that (they filed jointly). After the divorce, he was able to get Innocent Spouse Relief (in 2015, BM owed over $50K for the years from 2009-2011 and they had started taking the money out of DH's pay to cover that), because BM is a CPA, so the IRS believed DH when he said that BM prepared and filed all their tax returns without much input from him. I'm assuming based on the amount she owed and the amount of time it took them to start garnishing wages that they had caught her misreporting income somehow (BM played fast and loose with her business expenses, using her business account to pay lots of personal bills and also claiming some of her trips to the casino as "business expenses", not sure if she was caught on that, but how else would you owe $50k to the IRS).

In either case (filing jointly or separately), however, they may be able to seize joint assets, though. I know that we had to provide the Innocent Spouse rulings to our lender so that we could qualify for a mortgage (and that was just in response to DH's divorce decree saying that BM agreed to pay all IRS debt, which the decree said was $12k, the lender didn't even realize that she owed over 4x that much).

witch.hazel's picture

Can he call and set up a payment plan?

I did the same thing for two years- had too many exemptions and I did my own taxes online. I owed the state, though, not federal. There was no way of paying it online when my tax program said I owed, so I put it off. The same thing happened the following year. I got some penalties, but it's overall under $600. I'm paying $100 per month.

iamlosingit's picture

He can but they will add an extra $50 to the total and he doesn't think he should owe the late fees. He wants to call them but the only hours of operation are when he is at work and he can't call them from work. We were dating that year, I have no idea if he tried to pay it or if he just panicked when he saw he owed and closed the tax software window. Its funny though because our mortgage broker required his 2014 taxes for us to get our home loan, surprised the loan went through considering he owed. Nothing flagged.

iamlosingit's picture

The only things that are in both of our names is the pop-up camper that I am still paying off (was supposed to be just mine but I didn't have the credit yet so he was added to the loan) and both of our names are on the house. We have no joint checking accounts, no credit cards, nothing else together. I wanted to keep our finances as separate as possible so if BM brought DH back to court I could stay out of it as much as I could.

mtnwife530's picture

No,No,No.. The IRS can and does distinguish between your portion of income and his, if you file jointly ,include the form for Innocent Spouse Relief, sorry can't remember the form number, but then they will only take the portion of the refund from his income. Also,if he at least calls and makes some kind of arrangement they won't tap bank accounts or garnish any wages.
But if he ignores them,he'll have a problem. They would rather work with someone than go through time time and expense of finding accounts then going through channel's to collect.

mtnwife530's picture

Oh,but it would. If the debt was incurred prior to the marriage, sounds like it was, then yes, they file jointly with the innocent spouse form and the IRS will figure out the portion based on the income of each person. This only works if you file jointly. And he must make some kind of payment arrangement so they don't take money from bank accounts.

Cover1W's picture

DH had $10K (!!) of debt owed to the IRS when we met.
Thank goodness he was open about this with me.
This was due to BM taking virtually all of his retirement funds, and then DH was on the hook for the taxes for early withdrawal.

I make darn sure we file separately every single year. It's not optimal, but I'm not messing around with IRS debt.

He, due to the amount, is in a payment plan (with extortion level "fees" added on). I would advise paying it all of in one payment to prevent those fees. This will save a ton of money in the long run. He will not be able to negotiate out any "late fees" or negotiate it down. If he doesn't pay it it'll follow him to his paycheck.

SugarSpice's picture

this should be labeled OT.

it depends on how the assets are held and where you live.

joint income are owned by both spouses. its best to check with attorney who is also an accountant. do not go with your husband so you can speak confidentailly.

i file separately because me and dh have separate incomes. i dont know what he does with his money and he does not know what i do with mine. i know he give a lot to his parents and children in the amount of thousands of dollars. he makes twice what i make in my job and pinches pennies on me with regards to occasion gifts and spend a whole lot more on his children.

i wish the best for you in this.

iamlosingit's picture

I'm not seeing "edit" anywhere, do you know how I can fix it?

twoviewpoints's picture

" he claimed 6 for federal/state during the month he received his annual bonus and it took him over 3 months to change it back"

This guy just can't help himself *SMH*. I'm surprised payroll didn't tell him how foolish he was being with that stunt. Taxes are taxes, whether they come out then or at the end of the year. And then to act all 'oh my gosh' when the rest finally comes due. Lady, I hate to sound so negative, but get use to this constant cash drama with this guy. This is who he his... rather like a bull in a china shop just waiting for the next financial f-up.

My suggestion isn't going to be popular, but I suggest you take the $500 and personally pay down the owed to IRS amount in half now with him paying the other $450 in full between now and the deadline. Your Dh can then pay you in regular payments what he owes you , what he monthly owes for his share of household and his CS. You take his debit card/checkbook away from him and you treat him as the 5yr old he behaves when it comes to money and budgeting.

Sit him down, draw up his budget with expenses and necessary spending. You handle every dime of his money... at least until he has you fully paid back. After that you handle the parts necessary for his bills and hand him the remaining. When he's out of cash, he's done spending. No matter how much he whines.

strugglingSM's picture

I'd agree with this. Seems like OP's DH thought he could pull a fast one and then doesn't want to deal with the consequences. I too, would expect it to be a habit.

Every year at tax time, BM would freak out because he owed tens of thousands of dollars and didn't have it. She and DH burned through several second and third mortgages and a $60k inheritance from his grandmother that they originally agreed to set aside for SSs' college fund. Even with all that, she still owes the IRS $50k. I first met DH in mid-April and right before I met him, BM had asked him to ask MIL to "loan" her $5000 because she "needed it". She either used it to pay taxes or to cover legal fees for her new husband who was being sued at the time. She and DH had been divorced for three years at that point, but he still asked (like a fool) and then had to listen to MIL complain that BM never paid her back.

BM is a CPA and she still always thought she could pull one over on the IRS. The only reason she can pay now is that she had to go to work for a firm, because she wasn't making enough money as an independent consultant anymore and she needed health insurance (when I met DH, she was still on his).