Innocent Spouse

Today TaxMama hears from Auntie Weezer in the Tax Parlor who says, “I currently owe the IRS money from previous tax years, I will be getting married this fall. Is there any way I can keep IRS from taking my husband’s tax refund and only take mine? Someone told me to file married but separated so they do not take his refund. Is this true?”

Dear Auntie Weezer,

Aw, can’t you pay off the IRS before you get married?
Like with a loan or something?

Sure, you can file married, separately. And it’s well worth looking into. Go ahead and run the numbers. If your incomes are at similar levels, it might not make much of a difference.

But if your incomes are vastly different, one of you will end up paying much more in tax.

In that case, you can file jointly and attach the innocent spouse form – Form 8857 .

You’ll usually have to correspond back and forth a couple of times to get his share of the refund.

One bit of caution, though. Don’t file together if your current year’s taxes are not covered in full. As long as you are married, make sure that your taxes are paid up to date for each year. Otherwise, do not file jointly or he will be liable for your new debt.

No doubt you love him enough not to want to get him into trouble, so you won’t object to this advice.

And remember, you’ll find answers to lots of questions about innocent spouse and other tax information, free. Where? At

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