What Can Happen if Your Spouse Has Tax Debt?

Money issues can put a great strain on any marriage. Debt can be accumulated during the relationship or carried over from when one or both of the spouses were still single, giving rise to discord. Money problems may also result in divorce and may still cause fights even after the marriage is over, especially when there’s alimony, child support, and other financial obligations to fulfill.

Take tax debt into consideration. If you didn’t know that your spouse has back taxes, penalties, and interests owed to the IRS, the federal agency may one day give you a notice regarding the debt. Generally, you should not be liable for premarital tax debt, but there are some exceptions, wherein both of you may be held liable for the total debt even if your spouse incurred the debt before your marriage.

This usually happens when the couple files jointly for tax returns. If you have refunds, for instance, the IRS can keep a portion or all of your refunds to satisfy your spouse’s debt.

It could also happen when you file separately. For example, in community property states like California, there may be rulings where the IRS can deduct the premarital debt from your personal refund or even garnish your wages. In the worst cases, you could end up owing thousands of dollars of your spouse’s debt.

If you receive a notice like this, speak to a San Diego tax lawyer immediately for IRS tax resolution services.


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