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Tax debt and marriage


An engagement and subsequent marriage can raise questions about who will be liable to pay one spouse's tax debt, especially if the debt was incurred prior to the marriage. Internal Revenue Service expert Jesse Weller wrote to the Sacramento Bee offering advice to couples who are facing delinquent back taxes.



By Kristen MacBeth
May 12th, 2010

An engagement and subsequent marriage can raise questions about who will be liable to pay one spouse's tax debt, especially if the debt was incurred prior to the marriage. Internal Revenue Service expert Jesse Weller wrote to the Sacramento Bee offering advice to couples who are facing delinquent back taxes.

One spouse is not typically responsible for tax debts filed prior to the marriage, because the tax returns were not filed jointly, Weller advises. However, once the couple files "married filing jointly" return, any penalties, taxes and fees become the responsibility of both parties, Weller commented.

A joint filing also allows the IRS to deduct any taxes either spouse owes to the agency from the couple's tax refund, including any debts incurred before the marriage, Weller said. Because each situation may be different, Weller recommends contacting a tax attorney regarding the details of the delinquency, the newspaper reports.

Owing back taxes to the IRS authorizes the agency to withhold tax refunds and, in some cases, garnish wages. In addition to federal taxes, refunds may be withheld to pay for delinquent student loan or spousal support balances. Workers who owe back taxes may benefit from speaking with a professional to discuss their options.ADNFCR-3424-ID-19774295-ADNFCR






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