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Tax situations can easily become confusing, but this complexity does not make the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) any less forgiving of those who fail to handle their income taxes correctly. Many people deal with enormous amounts of debt, and some may even be forced to go into bankruptcy due to IRS fines and other issues relating to incorrect tax filings. It is crucial that people dealing with potentially difficult tax situations understand how to effectively handle these issues.
One such situation may occur when a recently deceased spouse owes back taxes. This can be a complicated situation, but one that individuals need to handle correctly to avoid harsher penalties in the future.
Am I Responsible for Paying My Husband’s or Wife’s Taxes?
Married couples can file for taxes separately or jointly. If the couple files as individuals, or separately, one spouse should not be held liable for the other’s back taxes. However, if the couple opts to file income taxes jointly, each spouse is liable for the other partner’s back taxes as well as their own. This means that if a married couple files taxes jointly and one of them passes away while owing back taxes, in most cases the surviving spouse is responsible for those back taxes.
How are Back Taxes Handled After Death?
Even if partners in a marriage choose to file taxes their separately, when one partner passes away, the IRS may attempt to take some or all of the back taxes from the deceased spouse’s estate. Often, the deceased person’s spouse is an heir to the estate, and even though the IRS can try to claim some of the back taxes from the deceased person’s estate, the agency cannot obligate the surviving spouse to pay them. Therefore, back taxes can reduce the amount a surviving spouse receives from their loved one’s estate, but the IRS does not directly tax that spouse if the couple filed for taxes separately.
What is Innocent Spouse Relief?
Before or after a spouse passes, the IRS allows for an exemption from spousal tax liability. This is called Innocent Spouse Relief. A person can apply for Innocent Spouse Relief when his or her spouse has a large tax debt to which the other spouse did not consent and had no knowledge. This can separate the “innocent spouse” from potential IRS issues, removing his or her liability from the debts incurred by the other spouse.
Get Out of Debt with Support from a Lawyer That Handles Bankruptcy
You work hard and did your best to manage your finances, but debt can become a problem for anyone. Attorney Kevin D. Judd understands that even the most responsible consumers deal with debt, and he does everything he can to help them regain their financial security. He can work with you to manage your debt, and if necessary, can work with you throughout the Chapter 7, Chapter 13 or other bankruptcy process. Call the Law Firm of Kevin D. Judd for a free initial consultation. Take back your financial freedom today.