“Ask Your Attorney” Column
About An Innocent Spouse – Qualifying For Relief From Back Taxes
Dear Counselor: I didn’t know my husband cheated on our tax returns when I signed them, and now the IRS is after me! We divorced due to the abuse I had to endure during our marriage, and now the IRS is threatening to garnish my wages to pay back taxes, and I can’t afford it. What do I do?
Dear Client: More innocent spouses will now qualify for equitable relief from back taxes under new guidelines just released by the IRS. The factors used by the IRS to evaluate an application by a taxpayer that it would be unfair to hold them liable for unpaid taxes attributable to their spouses have just been revised. Greater emphasis will be placed on the effects of physical or emotional abuse which you suffered, and whether you will experience economic hardship if relief is denied. So, if you were being abused, had no real ability to understand the tax return, or the financial information used in preparing it, your husband told you to mind your own business and “just sign here” then you can file an application for relief with the IRS and all of these factors will be evaluated in connection with your request to be released from any liability even though you signed a joint return for that year. These new rules and procedures are effective immediately, so you should definitely apply for relief. If you prove your case, the IRS will be off your back, and you can get on with your life.
John L. Maier, Jr.
Sweet & Maier, S.C., Attorneys
114 Church St. Elkhorn, Wisconsin