Can the IRS come after you for your spouse’s taxes? In some cases, yes. The reason the IRS will track you down if your wife or husband owes taxes depends on a few factors, such as when you filed and your filing status.
Whether your partner claimed false deductions or simply failed to pay the IRS money they owe, you may be held responsible for your husband or wife’s wrongdoings. We’ll go over scenarios where you may find yourself in troubled waters if your spouse has tax debt below.
FILING STATUS AND LIABILITY
Your filing status is one of the key determinants of whether you can be held responsible for your spouse’s taxes. Married couples have two options when it comes to filing taxes: filing jointly and filing separately. These options are available whether you’re filing when married to a foreigner or a legal resident. Let’s take a look at each filing status and your potential liability.
MARRIED FILING JOINTLY
Your tax filing status matters because it determines how much of your income is taxable. Joint filing is a common choice for couples because it comes with a variety of tax breaks, such as:
Earned Income Tax Credit
Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit
Lifetime Learning Education Tax Credit
American Opportunity Education Tax Credit
Traditional IRA deductions
Student loan interest deductions
There are many beneficial perks to filing jointly with your spouse, such as claiming tax allowances and qualifying for credits and deductions. One downside, however, is if your spouse owes money to the IRS.
When you file jointly with your partner, you assume “joint and several liability,” which means both of your tax obligations become one and the same. This makes you both legally responsible for each other’s tax debt.
If you’re lying awake at night wondering, “can the IRS come after me for my spouse’s taxes?” the answer is yes. This is true even if you didn’t do anything wrong. In this case, the IRS will use your refund to offset your spouse’s debt. If you don’t want your tax refund going toward your partner’s back taxes, there are ways to dispute liability, such as applying for Innocent Spouse Relief or Injured Spouse Relief, which we’ll dive into later.
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