levitra"> levitra"> Q: My husband wants to file joint tax returns this year, but

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Q: Things have been really tight since my husband and I decided to divorce. One of the things he has done to bring home more money from his job is to change his withholding taxes, and Im pretty sure that we will owe a lot of money when we file our tax returns. I suspect also, but am not sure, that he does not intend to report the income from his side business. He wants me to file jointly with him. He says that it will save us a lot of money in taxes and that he will take full responsibility for any taxes that might still be due. Despite our pending divorce, he is a good man, and I believe he has every intention of keeping his word. We are also still openly communicating, which is important to me for the sake of the children. Still, Im worried that despite his best intentions he might be in over his head, and getting deeper. What are the risks to filing jointly. It would only be for this one year?

A: You have raised an important issue. The fact is that you and your husband are still financially linked. With such connections come certain risks. If you and your husband file jointly and he is unable to pay the taxes due, a possibility since he seems to be having some financial difficulties, the IRS will presume both of you responsible for the balance due and may attempt to collect any unpaid taxes from you. While in some cases you might eventually be able to get relief, there are no guarantees. Even if you were, IRS collection activities can be harsh and insensitive, and it is time-consuming and not always easy to reverse an action that has already been taken. In your case, it might be difficult to get such relief because there may be a substantial understatement of tax of which you had prior knowledge. The IRS will presume that you knew of the underreported income, and it will be up to you to prove that you did not. If you cant, the IRS will hold both of you responsible for the fraudulent tax return, even though the underreported income was his.

Do you have other questions? Send them to Carl Palatnik.

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