In the event that a married couple files a "married filing joint" tax return and both of them sign the tax return, they are both individually, jointly and severally liable for the entire amount of the tax debt. This can cause a problem in the event that the spouses separate or divorce, each one can be held individually liable for the entire amount of the tax debt regardless of whether the other spouse pays it or not.
How Is Separation Of Joint Liability Attained?
Under section 6015 of the US tax code there is a way to actually separate the liability and overcome the joint and several liability. However, they must comply with the myriad of rules including having filed "married filing joint" on the return in question and then one spouse cannot have actual knowledge of the tax debt of the other.
What Are The Qualifications For Separation Of Liability?
The first qualification is that a "married filing joint" return was filed. The second qualification is that the one spouse cannot have any knowledge of the other spouses tax debt and they did not benefit from the additional income. This is essentially an innocent spouse claim and technically it is seeking to resolve the tax liability of the innocent spouse by separating the themselves from the joint and several liability for the portion of tax debt that they were innocent of.
A Tax Attorney With Experience In Joint Tax Liability Cases
Over the years William D. Hartsock has successfully negotiated numerous innocent spouse and separation of joint and several liability cases. This firm has been very successful in getting the IRS to agree with our analysis and rule in favor of our clients.