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Divorce and back taxes in Illinois

Long after an Illinois couple's divorce is final, one of the parties may receive a bill for back taxes from the IRS for tax debt their former spouse incurred without their knowledge. If the person signed off on the joint tax returns for the tax year in question with their former spouse, they may be left on the hook for at least 50 percent of the tax debt or even all of it.

The IRS believes that when each spouse signs off on a joint tax return, they are stating that the information contained in the return is accurate. People whose marriages are experiencing problems should thus avoid simply leaving tax preparation up to their spouses without also reviewing the returns and participating in their preparation.

Some people will run up huge tax debts with the knowledge that their spouses will be left on the hook for them following their divorces. While the IRS may split the debt down the middle, it may also go after the higher-earning spouse for 100 percent of it. This can leave people with tax liens on their property and frozen bank accounts. People should thus actively assist in preparing any joint tax returns and consider hiring a tax professional to prepare them. They should not simply sign off on a return without reviewing it. If they discover that their former partner has been dishonest on the return, they may want to file for innocent spouse relief with the IRS. There are time limits within which the request for relief must be made.

Debts and property are both divided in the property division portion of a divorce. In order to protect themselves, those who are going through a divorce may want to get transcripts of returns directly from the IRS. In the event a spouse's dishonesty is discovered during the proceedings, the person may want to claim innocent spouse relief and notify an attorney about the existence of the discovered tax debt.

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Goddard & Malmquist

Goddard & Malmquist
1250 South Grove Avenue
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Barrington, IL 60010

Phone: 847-382-3995
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