Innocent spouse left holding the bag for unpaid taxes

According to IRS attorneys, under existing tax law a husband or wife left unwittingly responsible for unpaid taxes has two (2) years from the date his/her joint tax return was filed in which to seek “innocent spouse” protection. Many Democrats feel this policy is not fair, particularly in light of the fact the IRS gives itself ten (10) years to pursue these types of issues.

Tax lawyers and other tax professionals recognize that a disproportionate number of women are forced to rely on “innocent spouse” protection when their husbands have left them responsible for back taxes. Democrats have commented that thousands of women each year are being subjected to what they believe is an unjust policy promulgated by the IRS. In fact, Representative Doug Shulman (D) wrote to the IRS commissioner saying that his agency had “violated the spirit of the original law” by eliminating the ability of innocent spouses to seek protection after two (2) years.

Democrats aren’t the only group lobbying to have the limitations period extended. The National Taxpayer Advocate, Nina Olson, has also been calling for the two year limitation period to be lengthened.

In the interim, until the two year limitations period is expanded, if ever, innocent spouses needing tax assistance should consider consulting with a competent tax attorney or other tax professional to get their questions answered. Innocent spouses may also contact the IRS directly for assistance. But, no matter who the spouse may choose to call, he/she should definitely call someone and be proactive in managing their tax liabilities. The worse thing any innocent spouse could do would be to do nothing and hope the whole thing blows over, because in all likelihood it will not.

If you owe back taxes, have unfiled returns, and/or are the subject of an IRS wage garnishment, IRS levy and/or IRS lien get the help you need to resolve your tax problems. Options are available to help fix these issues if you act. Failure to take action, however, may end-up costing you extra in added penalties and interest.

A competent tax lawyer or other tax professional can also help you make an offer and compromise, or help get you into a payment plan to resolve settle back taxes. If you have unfiled returns, a tax lawyer or other tax professional can also help you get those returns completed and filed.


Segal, Cohen & Landis
9100 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 601E
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
(310) 285-3999

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