Being married has its advantages. Amongst them are several tax benefits that can lessen your obligation to the IRS each year. Yet, there are instances where one spouse's actions or inaction has a significant effect on the family's tax liabilities, which may not arise until after an audit. When a family finds itself strapped with hefty tax liabilities, a spouse who feels like he or she shouldn't be on the hook for tax payments may take action in an attempt to protect themselves.
Previous posts on this Texas blog have mentioned time and again that there are ways to meet one's tax obligations to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and even end up paying less than what one owed originally. Options, such as offers in compromise and currently not collectible status, have been discussed as collection alternatives in IRS law. Others are also available, depending on the facts and circumstances of one's situation.
When a married Texas resident files a joint tax return, it means they are both jointly and severally responsible for the ensuing liability. So, not only is it possible to collect the tax liability from the couple, the Internal Revenue Service can also collect it from any one spouse. This is true even if the couple divorces. For example, if one's former spouse did not report their income, then either of the spouses can be liable, unless one can qualify for innocent spouse relief.
When tax season comes around, your spouse usually files a joint return. After all, filing as a married couple is much easier than filing individual returns. However, something went wrong last year: Your spouse must have made an error on the return, and now you are being penalized for his or her mistake.