"Innocent Spouse" Relief In The Tax Code, Hmm, Whose Benefit Is This For?

So I paid my quarterly estimated taxes yesterday (don’t get me started on Bush spending my money like a drunken sailor). Bitter after cutting the check for so many thousands of bucks, I’m browsing the IRS webpage and am reminded of this:


A brief summary: “innocent spouse” protection allows one joint-married filer to avoid liability (which is presumptively imposed on both halves of a married couple) when the other spouse has engaged in tax misconduct in which the “innocent” spouse claims to have not participated.

I would wager a substantial portion of what I paid yesterday that this relief is invoked, in practice, almost uniformly and always by women (see, e.g., http://www.ncpa.org/pd/budget/pd122999e.html).

Hey, I didn’t know what he was up to! Hey, he handled the finances, I’m just a simple housewife! Hey, I didn’t enjoy the benefits of his tax cheating (really? Didn’t you live in the fancy house and enjoy the fancy lifestyle that his tax chicanery supported?). Hey, it’s not like marriage makes us a single, indissoluble economic unit, share and share alike!

Okay. But it’s funny, under our community property and no-fault-divorce regime, how the “economic unit” can be disregarded and the community of economic interest undone or reversed for tax purposes when there’s a detriment to the woman and she was arguably not “at fault,” but can essentially NEVER be disregarded, regardless of fault, when it comes time to allocate the GOOD economic assets and benefits of the marriage in divorce proceedings.

Actually, this benefitted me. My husband and I filed jointly right after we were married - he had NO income that year - it was all mine, made before we were married (we married in late November). They took the whole refund from me based on my income and applied it to a previous debt of his. I filed an innocent spouse claim and got my refund back.

What makes you think that? If one spouse engages in fraud towards the community, it’s entirely appropriate for a court to order an unequal distribution of community assets.

Well . . . results such as this:


Now, the lawyer and the reporter spin it as a case in which fault was taken into account. But if we apply the “innocent spouse” rationale, she’s treated the marriage as a non-entity, therefore the court should too, and he walks away with all his money – not “all less $40 mill.”

Well, my ex-husband & I owe a fairly substantial back tax liability (because he was (this isn’t the Pit?) a doofus) so my refunds are gone for the forseeable future. If Himself & I ever get around to getting married, he will be the one filing for Innocent Spouse relief, not me.

I do wish I’d known about the Innocent Spouse then when I was married to doofus ex-husband, though - our refunds always went to pay HIS back child support, which I wasn’t liable for. However, I’ve decided it’s not worth trying to go back & do the paperwork, and I don’t know that I could now anyway.

So, both of these are perfectly reasonable uses of that provision which wouldn’t necessarily be used as a “weapon” or by claiming ignorance.

As I’ve mentioned before, my family owns a tax business that helps people with liens, levies, back taxes, huge amounts due, fraud, etc. and etc.

We get lots of calls (mostly from women, I will admit) asking about innocent spouse. “My husband was a jerk! He said he paid and he didn’t. He took the money at spent it on a whore and know she’s pregnant and I don’t know what to do and I mean it isn’t my fault because I am innocent and I shouldn’t have to pay the taxes!” <-- All one, long babble.

Unfortunately, innocent spouse is granted in few cases (very specific guidelines).