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  #1  
Old 01-12-2008, 09:39 PM
Indygrrl Indygrrl is offline
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Am I responsible for debt my husband had before we got married?

My husband has thousands of dollars in debt that I did not know about before we got married (just over a year ago). Now I find out and I am very stressed over this. I already pay for everything in this house, mortage, bills, you name it, I pay for it. And I'm trying to go to school right now, which is expensive in and of itself.

Yesterday I opened up a letter to him from the IRS, saying he owes X amount of money and I'm freaking out. That shit compounds every month that it doesn't get paid and I'll be damned if I go work my ass off to pay for his bullshit. But, if it is going to drag me down with him, what else can I do?

So, my main question is, is his previous debt now my debt? Because if it is, I am going to find out if I can get an annullment. There is no way I'm going to throw everything I've worked for in the garbage just because of his debt.

Any advice would be wecome. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 01-12-2008, 09:52 PM
BoBettie BoBettie is offline
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I'm not sure about your question, but is it a lot of money? I mean, a few thousand or in the 10s of thousands? Often the IRS will work out a payment plan that he can start working on and at least stop the interest and penalties from continuing. Has he called them to find out the scoop?

Sorry for your situation.
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  #3  
Old 01-12-2008, 10:01 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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Yeah, he can schedule a repayment plan, and it cuts the interest rate in half, IIRC. He can specific his own monthly payment amount and the IRS entertains all serious offers.

As to your main question, IANAL, but I'd imagine it depends on your state law, I don't know is debts are treated similarly to assets.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:02 PM
Indygrrl Indygrrl is offline
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Originally Posted by BoBettie
I'm not sure about your question, but is it a lot of money? I mean, a few thousand or in the 10s of thousands? Often the IRS will work out a payment plan that he can start working on and at least stop the interest and penalties from continuing. Has he called them to find out the scoop?

Sorry for your situation.
It's enough that the interest is compounding at an alarming rate. Every month that he doesn't pay (or even if he does), they tack on more and more money.

About seven years ago I filed bankruptcy and I am finally in a good place as far as those finances go. I no longer have untended debt and I'm very cautious about anything involving my credit. It scares me that his carelessness could affect me.

And yes, I did think about these things before we got married, but he left out a few very important details. He filed his bankruptcy a year or more before we got married, so I was aware that he wouldn't have any credit for a long while, I didn't think there was any other debt that I needed to worry about. And I probably didn't probe too deeply into it because I just didn't think about it. Now I'm wishing we could go back in time, for this, and other reasons.
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  #5  
Old 01-12-2008, 10:04 PM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Indygrrl
My husband has thousands of dollars in debt that I did not know about before we got married (just over a year ago). Now I find out and I am very stressed over this. I already pay for everything in this house, mortage, bills, you name it, I pay for it. And I'm trying to go to school right now, which is expensive in and of itself.

Yesterday I opened up a letter to him from the IRS, saying he owes X amount of money and I'm freaking out. That shit compounds every month that it doesn't get paid and I'll be damned if I go work my ass off to pay for his bullshit. But, if it is going to drag me down with him, what else can I do?

So, my main question is, is his previous debt now my debt? Because if it is, I am going to find out if I can get an annullment. There is no way I'm going to throw everything I've worked for in the garbage just because of his debt.

Any advice would be wecome. Thanks.
No, it remains his debt. However, I think they can come after any assets that are in his name. Is his name on the mortgage?

Someone more knowledgeable than I will be along shortly to set you straight on the specifics.
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Old 01-12-2008, 10:43 PM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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You really need to go talk to a lawyer.
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Old 01-13-2008, 02:56 AM
LouisB LouisB is offline
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Unless you cosigned loans for him or unless you own property in common, I think you would be safe but IANAL. I found myself in a jam with the IRS following my divorce; they were very cooperative in setting up a payment schedule. Did your husband deliberately conceal his debts from you prior to your marriage? Or did he just sort of 'forget' to mention them?
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  #8  
Old 01-13-2008, 03:25 AM
A.R. Cane A.R. Cane is offline
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Originally Posted by ultrafilter
You really need to go talk to a lawyer.
This is the very best advice yet given. Do it tomorrow!
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  #9  
Old 01-13-2008, 05:43 AM
DiosaBellissima DiosaBellissima is offline
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There is such a thing as an innocent spouse rule that you can claim, but his credit is going to be negatively impacted (and therefore any joint purchases will encounter a problem). If his name is on your house, there will be a lien placed on your home.

What's more of a concern is the fact that his wages are likely to be garnished. Any bank account with his name (even joint ones) are also possibly going to be levied. Even though they aren't supposed to, they might also go after your wages, since you're married.

If he owes less than $10k, the IRS will generally put him on a payment plan. If it is more than $10k, they become a bit more strict. It also depends in what context he owes the money- did he not file tax returns and got IRS assessments made on his behalf? That's bad. Did he file, but just not pay? That's a much better place to be in.
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  #10  
Old 01-13-2008, 09:45 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Debt aside, I'd be more concerned that he felt the need to keep this from you. That's not a good sign.
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  #11  
Old 01-13-2008, 10:50 AM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by ivylass
Debt aside, I'd be more concerned that he felt the need to keep this from you. That's not a good sign.
That was my thought too. But somehow I'm sure you've already thought of this.

As others have pointed out, it is imperative that you get legal advice immediately.
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  #12  
Old 01-13-2008, 10:58 AM
Jean Gray Jean Gray is offline
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Originally Posted by Indygrrl
It's enough that the interest is compounding at an alarming rate. Every month that he doesn't pay (or even if he does), they tack on more and more money.

About seven years ago I filed bankruptcy and I am finally in a good place as far as those finances go. I no longer have untended debt and I'm very cautious about anything involving my credit. It scares me that his carelessness could affect me.

And yes, I did think about these things before we got married, but he left out a few very important details. He filed his bankruptcy a year or more before we got married, so I was aware that he wouldn't have any credit for a long while, I didn't think there was any other debt that I needed to worry about. And I probably didn't probe too deeply into it because I just didn't think about it. Now I'm wishing we could go back in time, for this, and other reasons.
I don't know the specific answer to your question, and would agree with talking to a lawyer. In the meantime, though, you can try fielding some questions and doing some searches in the credit forum at www.creditboards.com. Some people can be a little harsh in their responses, but the place is a gold mine for info about how to deal with credit issues (which include, btw, how to rebuild credit after a bankruptcy). Best of luck to you.
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  #13  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:07 AM
LurkMeister LurkMeister is offline
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Originally Posted by DiosaBellissima
If he owes less than $10k, the IRS will generally put him on a payment plan. If it is more than $10k, they become a bit more strict. It also depends in what context he owes the money- did he not file tax returns and got IRS assessments made on his behalf? That's bad. Did he file, but just not pay? That's a much better place to be in.
A number of years ago I had started getting IRS assessments for several thousand dollars based on non-filed tax returns. Because the IRS assessments did not take into account legitimate deductions and business losses, I was actually due refunds for the years in question. (I hadn't filed the returns because I was dealing with a number of personal issues, among them bad record-keeping and a sick spouse.) When I finally got the whole mess straightened out, which involved several visits to the IRS office, I got the refunds I was due and was never even charged any penalties because there was no tax debt involved.

The notices I was receiving kept adding more and more interest to the initially presumed tax owed. It's possible that your husband may be in a similar situation.
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  #14  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:17 AM
Mangosteen Mangosteen is offline
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Your husband is a first class loser. You have to get as far away from this guy as possible.

I won't ask how he tricked you into marrying him, but he DID trick you. And you are paying all the bills for the both of you?!!!

You need to get an annulment right away!
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  #15  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:24 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Mangosteen, that's a bit harsh. Let's get to the bottom of things before we advocate busting up marriages.
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  #16  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:26 AM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by LurkMeister
When I finally got the whole mess straightened out, which involved several visits to the IRS office, I got the refunds I was due and was never even charged any penalties because there was no tax debt involved.
Gosh, how lucky were you? I'm way into civil disobedience, but the IRS is one arm of the government I would never mess with. Their powers are amazing in a nauseating unconstitutional kind of way.

You don't get to not file based on what's going on in your life. That excuse apparently worked for you, but I guarantee everyone who is caught by the IRS for not filing has some "very good excuse" why they couldn't. And I also guarantee that most of them don't get away with their excuses, because they were legal required to file, period end of story.

The IRS, unfortunately, has ever right to charge penalties on top of interest on top of more penalties and interest, compounded every second until the end of time, and anything you own is forfeit to them in payment of that debt. They are some scary mothers, and like most people they normally abuse every bit of power they have.

The OP is in a difficult position, which no amount of false hope or recommendations to leave her husband is going to fix. Presumably the marriage is working for her on balance, because she's still there. I was also in a situation once with a partner who was massively fiscally irresponsible, and you only ever find out about it the hard way because they try to hide it. The long term issue is certainly one of trust, but the short term issue here is financial in a big way.
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  #17  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:26 AM
Chimera Chimera is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mangosteen
I won't ask how he tricked you into marrying him, but he DID trick you. And you are paying all the bills for the both of you?!!!

You need to get an annulment right away!
So where were you in 2002 when I married a sociopath who told me that she owed around $6k before we got married, but after we were married it turned out to be over $30k?

I gotta agree, no matter how hard it may be, that if the guy is in serious debt, you gotta run, don't walk, for the nearest exit. I wish I had.
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  #18  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:28 AM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by Chimera
So where were you in 2002 when I married a sociopath who told me that she owed around $6k before we got married, but after we were married it turned out to be over $30k? .
OMG I married the same person in 1999.
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  #19  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:38 AM
Gfactor Gfactor is offline
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1. You probably are not liable for your spouse's premarital debts.

2. Jointly held assets, on the other hand, can sometimes be reached by the creditors of a single spouse. Usually not. But it gets complicated: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/...16-block_x.htm

3. The innocent spouse rule has nothing to do with this matter. It's about liability for returns filed during the marriage. http://www.irs.gov/individuals/artic...109283,00.html There is a procedure for protecting your portion of your tax refund from an offset (for your spouse's back taxes, for example) called an Injured Spouse Claim: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f8379.pdf Since your spouse owes the IRS money, you might benefit from this procedure if you are filing jointly with your husband.

4. Best bet, as others have said is to talk to a lawyer. You can sometimes get a real lawyer who is licensed in your state to answer your question at http://www.lawguru.com/ The advice you are seeking should not cost very much; I'd still recommend meeting with a lawyer in person.
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Last edited by Gfactor; 01-13-2008 at 11:43 AM..
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  #20  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:57 AM
Ca3799 Ca3799 is offline
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I care less about the past debt than about why he's not contributing to the family income (and debts) at the current time. What's up with that?


Anyway, my DH had an IRS debt when we got together. He accumulated this debt through a combination of poor planning, a failed business, and a messy divorce. By then, he had enough problems that he found it too easy to ignore them for a while.

No, I wasn't thrilled to help pay off a sizable debt that I did not create, but I was more interested in getting the problem solved and moving on. One of my pettier concerns was how his ex would be benefitting from my hard work, but being a sensible person, realized that the issue had to be addressed anyway.

More important, though, was that DH was ready to face and solve the problem.

First, he made a payment plan with he IRS and then we paid large portions of the debt by having our income tax refunds withheld for several (4?) years.

BTW, we took special care to file our taxes as late as possible so his ex would have every opportunity to have her refund garnished, also. We never talked to her but heard of her complaints through the grapevine.

I've had DH now for 15-17 years and we still occasionally get some kind of contact about that time in his life (because he was young and made a lot of financial mistakes) such as a letter from one of those 'old debt collection agencies'. I posted one of my letters to a collection agency here recently.

If your DH is grown up enough at this time to deal with his problems, and you feel like overall it would be worth it, you could certainly knock that debt out pretty painlessly. Since you are newly married, this is a good time to find out how he handles serious problems and if that's the kind of guy you want to hang with for many years to come.
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  #21  
Old 01-13-2008, 12:01 PM
Manda JO Manda JO is offline
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You also have to decide if you want to stay married: IANAL, but I suspect a technical annulment will be meaningless one way or the other if you continue to live with him as his wife--that sort of legal fiction works well in movies but the law actually is set up to deal with that sort of thing.

And even if you don't want to disclose the numbers involved, the % of his annual income represented by the debt would help get a handle on the magnitude of the thing.
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  #22  
Old 01-13-2008, 04:28 PM
ENugent ENugent is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprockets
You don't get to not file based on what's going on in your life. That excuse apparently worked for you, but I guarantee everyone who is caught by the IRS for not filing has some "very good excuse" why they couldn't. And I also guarantee that most of them don't get away with their excuses, because they were legal required to file, period end of story.
I believe you are only legally required to file if you owe taxes.
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  #23  
Old 01-13-2008, 04:43 PM
Indygrrl Indygrrl is offline
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The debt is from when he sold the house he lived in before he moved to my side of town. He had trouble selling it and took a loss. I know he owed some to the IRS, but it wasn't that much. But if you don't pay for it, it will keep growing. He doesn't want to face that fact.

He's not a deadbeat. He works, but he's also chronically ill and only working as a contract employee until his company hires him on full-time. The problem is that since I make sooo much more than him he thinks I should pay for everything. He'll buy groceries, and he does take care of my daughter a lot, but other than that he doesn't do much financially.

Before we got married he was paying half of everything and contributing evenly. But, a lot has changed since then.

I'm seriously going to call his dad and tell him what's up. My family has helped me enough, and I wouldn't even think of asking them to pay this.
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Old 01-13-2008, 05:12 PM
Plynck Plynck is offline
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Originally Posted by Sprockets
You don't get to not file based on what's going on in your life. That excuse apparently worked for you, but I guarantee everyone who is caught by the IRS for not filing has some "very good excuse" why they couldn't. And I also guarantee that most of them don't get away with their excuses, because they were legal required to file, period end of story.
I'm not an accountant, and probably wouldn't post this if it was in GQ instead of IMHO.

I believe that you are technically correct, but if you read LurkMeister's post again, you'll see that he was really due a return instead of owing one. The IRS takes a different attitude toward people whom they owe money to as opposed to those who owe them money. I can't recall the specifics, but I remember this coming up in politics some time ago. Some pol was accused of consistently filing taxes late, but it was clarified that he was owed money rather than owing money. Some expert in the newspaper article said that it was technically a violation, but without money owed there was no penalty or interest, so no one really pays much attention to it. Just don't expect the IRS to pay you the same interest rate that they would ask you to pay.
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  #25  
Old 01-13-2008, 05:20 PM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by ENugent
I believe you are only legally required to file if you owe taxes.
You're requied to file if you make over a certain amount in a given year, and in various other situations, whether or not you owe taxes.

I will do whatever the IRS - or the DEA - require of me. To do otherwise is madness.
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  #26  
Old 01-13-2008, 05:22 PM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by Indygrrl
I'm seriously going to call his dad and tell him what's up. My family has helped me enough, and I wouldn't even think of asking them to pay this.
I was with you until you said you're going to tell his parents on him. Are you both adults? Why should anyone else bail him out of this?
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  #27  
Old 01-13-2008, 05:29 PM
Zabali_Clawbane Zabali_Clawbane is offline
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Originally Posted by Indygrrl
I'm seriously going to call his dad and tell him what's up. My family has helped me enough, and I wouldn't even think of asking them to pay this.
Are these the same in-laws you were quite...blunt to about religion not so long ago? Am I mis-remembering? Good luck with that, if so.
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  #28  
Old 01-13-2008, 06:47 PM
LurkMeister LurkMeister is offline
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To continue the slight hijack, I was concerned about possible penalties even though I was pretty sure I was due a refund. For several years before that I had been getting extensions even though I knew I was due a refund just because my records were so poorly organized that I never had the information I needed to file my return on time. It was one of those situations that just kept feeding on itself; I was getting so stressed over my problems that I kept putting off dealing with them.

One interesting thing: one of the years I filed late was the year they had the "tax rebate" and when I filed the return for that year I got a notice that I was due more of a refund than I had filed for.

And believe me, I am much more careful with my records now. It does help that my finances are a lot less complex now than they were then, although I did get some capital gains payouts last month that I wasn't expecting, which may mean that I'll have a tax bill instead of a refund. But I will be filing my return on time this year.
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Old 01-13-2008, 06:56 PM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Originally Posted by Indygrrl
I'm seriously going to call his dad and tell him what's up. My family has helped me enough, and I wouldn't even think of asking them to pay this.
Sweetie, you have to quit running to your parents or his parents every time you hit a bump in the road. I don't know if you're going to hit them up for money or just bring them up to speed, but some stuff is none of their business.

I'm a bit confused about your finances. You make more than your husband, but all he does is buy groceries. Is that all he is able to contribute, or all he is willing to contribute?

If it's the first, then you need a lawyer to get this IRS thing straightened out. If it's the second, then you need to have a serious sit-down with your husband. Just because you make more than him does not mean he can use his paycheck as play money.
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Old 01-13-2008, 10:36 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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You need to see a lawyer and/or financial consultant. Getting advice from a message board is not the place to start with a debt so large it has you considering annulling your marriage.
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  #31  
Old 01-13-2008, 10:55 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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What does his dad have to do with it?
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Old 01-13-2008, 11:04 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ivylass
Debt aside, I'd be more concerned that he felt the need to keep this from you. That's not a good sign.
And "I already pay for everything in this house, mortage, bills, you name it, I pay for it."- that's an even worse sign.

Indygrrl- why the hell do you pay "for everything" anyway?

Bankruptcy generally does not discharge debt to the IRS. So that's why he still owes. The IRS will take the refund from your Joint Tax Return. But if he still owes on the home sale debt, something is wrong there.

Talk to a lawyer.
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  #33  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:07 PM
MissGypsy MissGypsy is offline
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Originally Posted by Indygrrl
Yesterday I opened up a letter to him from the IRS, saying he owes X amount of money and I'm freaking out.
Perhaps it's just me thinking this is odd, but you open your husband's mail? I would be stunned if my husband opened anything that came addressed to me. I'd be absolutely horrified if my spouse started opening my mail and then calling my parent about it!
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  #34  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:09 PM
The King of Soup The King of Soup is offline
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Hire someone to stand between you and the IRS and negotiate. It's a specialized skill, and there are people who have it. The IRS doesn't want blood and it doesn't want your body. All it wants is money, and it's immortal so it can be patient. Demonstrate an income and even a grudging willingness to pay, and you can reach an agreement with them.

You didn't mention creditors other than the IRS here. Consider that there may be some. Good luck.
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  #35  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:25 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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Originally Posted by Indygrrl

He's not a deadbeat. He works, but he's also chronically ill and only working as a contract employee until his company hires him on full-time. The problem is that since I make sooo much more than him he thinks I should pay for everything. He'll buy groceries, and he does take care of my daughter a lot, but other than that he doesn't do much financially.

Before we got married he was paying half of everything and contributing evenly. But, a lot has changed since then.

I'm seriously going to call his dad and tell him what's up. My family has helped me enough, and I wouldn't even think of asking them to pay this.

OK there is is finace woman on TV, who's name I forget now but she give this adivce and it seems perfect for you.

You and hubby need 3 bank accounts. One for you, one for him and one for the house.

You don't do the house 50/50. What you do is you take your total joing income and figure out what percentage each of you make of the total. For example, lets just say, to keep it easy that the two of you together make 100 dollars a month. You make 75 dollars and he makes 25. So you pay for 75% of the household bills and he pays 25%. So whatever your housepayment is, you pay 75% he pays 25%, electric bill, groceries, what ever is 'joint' you divide up that way. Then he takes his money and pays off the IRS with that. Your money pays for you. Your school, ect.
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  #36  
Old 01-13-2008, 11:38 PM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is online now
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Originally Posted by Zebra
OK there is is finace woman on TV, who's name I forget now but she give this adivce and it seems perfect for you.

You and hubby need 3 bank accounts. One for you, one for him and one for the house.

You don't do the house 50/50. What you do is you take your total joing income and figure out what percentage each of you make of the total. For example, lets just say, to keep it easy that the two of you together make 100 dollars a month. You make 75 dollars and he makes 25. So you pay for 75% of the household bills and he pays 25%. So whatever your housepayment is, you pay 75% he pays 25%, electric bill, groceries, what ever is 'joint' you divide up that way. Then he takes his money and pays off the IRS with that. Your money pays for you. Your school, ect.

The idea of "his money" and "her money" in a marriage would scare the living crap out of me. In my marriage, we have "our money". We both decide how it gets spent, saved, or donated. Obviously I don't call her for every purchase, but neither one of us will buy anything if it is over a certain, pre-determined amount.
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  #37  
Old 01-14-2008, 06:12 AM
Ferret Herder Ferret Herder is offline
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Originally Posted by Labrador Deceiver
The idea of "his money" and "her money" in a marriage would scare the living crap out of me. In my marriage, we have "our money". We both decide how it gets spent, saved, or donated. Obviously I don't call her for every purchase, but neither one of us will buy anything if it is over a certain, pre-determined amount.
And obviously you two are more responsible with money than the OP's husband is.
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  #38  
Old 01-14-2008, 06:44 AM
Nancarrow Nancarrow is offline
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Originally Posted by Labrador Deceiver
The idea of "his money" and "her money" in a marriage would scare the living crap out of me. In my marriage, we have "our money". We both decide how it gets spent, saved, or donated. Obviously I don't call her for every purchase, but neither one of us will buy anything if it is over a certain, pre-determined amount.
I have no intention of ever getting married, and this post demonstrates why. I can't blame you, LD, I'm sure most of the married world shares your views. But holy crap, WHY do people decide when they get married, that suddenly all that exists is 'our money'?

My sister and dad are currently in marriages with this communal-money attitude. For sis, she's the mug, and for my dad, his wife's the mug. All four parties involved are in poor financial situations. Stupid bastards.
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  #39  
Old 01-14-2008, 07:03 AM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra
You and hubby need 3 bank accounts. One for you, one for him and one for the house.

You don't do the house 50/50. What you do is you take your total joing income and figure out what percentage each of you make of the total. For example, lets just say, to keep it easy that the two of you together make 100 dollars a month. You make 75 dollars and he makes 25. So you pay for 75% of the household bills and he pays 25%. So whatever your housepayment is, you pay 75% he pays 25%, electric bill, groceries, what ever is 'joint' you divide up that way. Then he takes his money and pays off the IRS with that. Your money pays for you. Your school, ect.
This is exactly how we do things in my house, and it works like an absolute dream. I earn more than her, so I still treat her to drinks, dinners (and most groceries), but I am buying them with my money, voluntarily. She can go out and buy cosmetics and shoes or whatever it is that women like to pamper their fluffy little egos with*, and pay off her own credit cards, and it causes no friction at all, because it's her money she's spending, and all our utilities and mortgage have already been taken care of at the start of every month.

*Joke

Last edited by jjimm; 01-14-2008 at 07:03 AM..
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  #40  
Old 01-14-2008, 08:13 AM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zebra
For example, lets just say, to keep it easy that the two of you together make 100 dollars a month. You make 75 dollars and he makes 25. So you pay for 75% of the household bills and he pays 25%. So whatever your housepayment is, you pay 75% he pays 25%, electric bill, groceries, what ever is 'joint' you divide up that way
That sounds like a great way for roommates to do the finances, but it sets my teeth on edge when held up as a great way to arrange finances within a marriage. I think in a marriage, if the partners don't feel comfortable having one joint account for everything, it's an indicator that trust is fundamentally lacking. The goal of a marriage should be trust and transparency, not making sure you don't spend more than you "should."
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Old 01-14-2008, 08:17 AM
ivylass ivylass is offline
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Well, Ivylad and I have been married 19 years. For the past 10 or so, we've had separate bank accounts, and believe me, it's cut down on a lot of the stress.

We have different philosophies with handling money. I balance to the penny every two weeks. He recently discovered he had more than $200 in his account than he thought he did. The bill responsibilities just kinds of evolved...we only have one joint credit card account, Lowe's, and we just paid that off. He has his debts, I have mine, and while we work together to pay them off, I don't complain about his spending money and he doesn't complain about mine.

I think finances should be handled however works best for your marriage, but under no circumstances, if there are two breadwinners, that one breadwinner pays all the bills.
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:06 AM
zweisamkeit zweisamkeit is offline
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Originally Posted by Sprockets
That sounds like a great way for roommates to do the finances, but it sets my teeth on edge when held up as a great way to arrange finances within a marriage. I think in a marriage, if the partners don't feel comfortable having one joint account for everything, it's an indicator that trust is fundamentally lacking. The goal of a marriage should be trust and transparency, not making sure you don't spend more than you "should."

Agreed.

I can still see having a personal account just to keep "present money" in. For example, if I go Christmas buying, I don't want my future husband to check the online banking and say, "hey, this purchase from MicroCenter... I didn't make it... all right, gift for me from MicroCenter!"

All actual funds, though, joint account all the way.
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  #43  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:14 AM
shiftless shiftless is offline
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It sounds to me like you need to talk to a lawyer. (Period)

Even if you are not directly responsible for this debt, it is still a hole that will keep sucking up your communal money until something is done about it. A couple can have separate accounts, separate credit cards and separate debt ... but if you are going to share a life together, money is going to cross between these two areas.

My story ... After we were married, I found out my wife was still making payments on her ex-husbands car! The car is in both names and she is afraid her credit will be ruined if they default on the loan. She has a kid to support and is trying to rebuild her credit, he has a drug habit to support and a car he ain't giving up. So, it turns out I'm pay the whole mortgage so she can pay "other bills". That sucked. There is no "separate" money in a marrage.
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:16 AM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by zweisamkeit
Agreed.

I can still see having a personal account just to keep "present money" in.
Or there's always cash. I know, I know. It feels funny to use cash. And the cashiers don't know what to do with it. But it's still legal tender.
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  #45  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:22 AM
zweisamkeit zweisamkeit is offline
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Originally Posted by Sprockets
Or there's always cash. I know, I know. It feels funny to use cash. And the cashiers don't know what to do with it. But it's still legal tender.

True, true. I hate carrying cash, though. I'm screwed if I get mugged and for some reason it's easier for me (mentally) to use cards instead of cash. I'm odd, I know.
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  #46  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:26 AM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shiftless
<snip> There is no "separate" money in a marrage.
I think that's the bottom line. A marriage is a legal binding of two people, including their finances. That's why the lawyer is so important; us folks here can't tell you how much your debts PRE marriage are going to affect your finances IN the marriage, because in the eyes of the law, you and your husband are a financial unit now. The IRS doesn't want to know about your marital status just because they're curious.
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  #47  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:42 AM
Sprockets Sprockets is offline
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Originally Posted by featherlou
. . .in the eyes of the law, you and your husband are a financial unit now. The IRS doesn't want to know about your marital status just because they're curious.
Exactly. And I think couples who have separate accounts and play money games and pretend that "I don't need to know what he's doing" are fooling themselves. When I was young and foolish and had affairs with married men, they all had separate bank accounts, and I used to wonder what the wives were thinking.
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  #48  
Old 01-14-2008, 09:51 AM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancarrow
But holy crap, WHY do people decide when they get married, that suddenly all that exists is 'our money'?
(
Are you serious? Have you considered the possibility that there is a lot more to running a household than earning a paycheck? Is a stay at home Mom (or Dad) supposed to get paid an allowance by the primary income earner? Talk about setting yourself up to fail.
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Old 01-14-2008, 09:59 AM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is online now
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Originally Posted by Labrador Deceiver
Are you serious? Have you considered the possibility that there is a lot more to running a household than earning a paycheck? Is a stay at home Mom (or Dad) supposed to get paid an allowance by the primary income earner? Talk about setting yourself up to fail.
Sorry, Nancarrow. I didn't mean for that to sound as huffy as it did. I just wanted to convey that there are a lot of things to take under consideration when two people are running a household. It gets even more difficult when kids are involved.
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  #50  
Old 01-14-2008, 10:00 AM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sprockets
That sounds like a great way for roommates to do the finances, but it sets my teeth on edge when held up as a great way to arrange finances within a marriage. I think in a marriage, if the partners don't feel comfortable having one joint account for everything, it's an indicator that trust is fundamentally lacking. The goal of a marriage should be trust and transparency, not making sure you don't spend more than you "should."
We've done it both ways.

The multiple accounts thing worked great when there wasn't a lot of money, therefore there was a lot of friction about non-necessary expenses. At the time, Brainiac4 had a considerable comic book habit, and I was avoiding buying new shoes. It isn't trust and transparency, as much as its about communication - when money is really tight, calling to say "hey, honey, do we have $10 for me to pitch in towards pizza and beer" isn't practical - but $10 can break you. Giving each person some sort of allowance, easiest today by just having separate accounts, lets each person have their own accounting of non-budgeted "blow money."

When there was enough money not to have to track it that closely, it sort of became silly to do so. There have still been moments of miscommunication and unclear boundaries - when Brainiac4 goes shoe shopping and I, in my shoe innocence believe this means a single pair of $70 shoes and say "sure," and he comes home with 4 pair of shoes that cost between $100 and $300. We are still learning - and we have been married twelve years and have had shared finances for ten of those years. Separate accounts would save us the bother of having to learn.

When money is REALLY tight there isn't any blow money - you are going to spend $80 at the grocery store and $82 is going to be a problem. It becomes moot again to have separate accounts since every penny is going to heat, rent and food. You don't need to ask about the pizza.
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