Tax Preparation & Tax Crisis Assistance Guiding You Through Complicated Tax Matters CALL FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Do I Have to Pay My (Ex) Spouse’s Overdue Taxes?

Law Office of Scott N. Tisevich March 15, 2023

Judge's gavel with dollars in roll with single word taxGoing through a divorce is emotionally draining and complicated, and the financial implications can be especially overwhelming. One question many divorcing individuals have is whether they are responsible for their ex-spouse’s overdue taxes. 

If you were contacted by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding your ex-spouse’s overdue taxes and you do not know what to do, contact the Law Office of Scott N. Tisevich. Scott N. Tisevich is a skilled tax attorney who can review your case and advise you on what steps should be taken next.  

Working with an attorney will give you peace of mind knowing that any past-due tax liabilities are being handled correctly. With an office in Reno, Nevada, Scott N. Tisevich helps clients resolve their tax problems throughout the state, including Lyon County, Churchill County, Douglas County, Story County, Carson County, and Las Vegas.   

Do I Have to Pay My (Ex) Spouse’s Overdue Taxes?  

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the tax year in question, your marital status at the time the taxes were due, whether you filed joint returns (even if only one spouse received income), and where you live.  

If you filed joint tax returns before the divorce was finalized, then both spouses will usually be held liable for any unpaid taxes regardless of who earned the income in that year. That is because spouses who file a joint tax return share responsibility for not only the taxes but also fines and interest. This means that even if your ex-spouse was solely responsible for earning the income reported on a joint return, you might still owe back taxes if they were not paid upon filing.  

So, do you have to pay your ex-spouse’s overdue taxes after the divorce? Probably yes. That’s because divorce decrees do not affect the IRS or creditors. The IRS only cares about its tax revenue and getting those overdue taxes paid.  

Innocent Spouse Relief  

If you are divorced and find yourself facing the financial burden of your former spouse’s back taxes, you may be eligible for innocent spouse relief, which is a form of tax relief offered by the IRS to those individuals who have had their taxes incorrectly reported on a joint return filed with their former spouse.  

The IRS offers this option because it understands that some individuals are unaware of any discrepancies or are unable to prevent them from occurring due to trust issues or other circumstances. It also acknowledges that some individuals may have unknowingly signed off on an incorrect joint tax return and should not be held accountable for an error made by another person. 

If you have filed a joint tax return with your former spouse and are now dealing with the financial responsibility of back taxes owed, then you may qualify for innocent spouse relief. To qualify, you must meet certain criteria, including but not limited to: 

  • Having filed jointly with your former spouse;  

  • Being unaware of any discrepancies in the filing; and  

  • Having done nothing wrong in terms of filing the incorrect information.  

Additionally, if you can prove that your ex-spouse misled you or failed to provide key information, then this could also potentially qualify you for innocent spouse relief. 

What Should You Do If You Owe Back Taxes?  

It can be intimidating to receive a notice from the IRS saying that you owe back taxes—especially if those back taxes were incurred by your ex-spouse. The best thing to do in this situation is to contact an experienced tax attorney right away so they can review your case and advise you of any available options.  

Depending on your situation, there may be ways to reduce or eliminate some of those unpaid taxes so that you are no longer liable for them. An attorney will also help ensure that all paperwork is properly filled out and submitted to minimize penalties and interest payments incurred as a result of late filings or payments.   

Experienced Guidance Every Step of the Way  

No one likes dealing with unpaid taxes—especially after going through a divorce. However, it is possible that you could owe money from past due taxes incurred by your ex-spouse. If you do not know what to do with your ex-spouse’s overdue taxes after divorce, contact Scott N. Tisevich, Attorney at Law for guidance. Get a free case review today to discuss your situation and learn about your options.