At what point does a spouse’s knowledge of embezzlement income make innocent spouse relief unavailable?
Taxpayer Says: Husband should not have to pay tax on wife’s embezzlement income because he did not know of it at the time the original joint tax return was filed.
Internal Revenue Service Says: Innocent spouse relief does not apply because husband knew of embezzlement when amended return was filed.
From IRC Section Sec. 6013(d)(3): A married couple who file their Federal tax return jointly are both responsible for the return’s accuracy and are both jointly and severally liable for the entire tax due.
From IRC Section 6015(b)(1)(C): An innocent spouse may seek relief from joint and several liability if he can show that he was justifiably ignorant of unreported income or inflated deductions.
THE CAUSE OF THE DISPUTE
The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) does not specify at what point the spouse must be ignorant of the incorrect information on the tax return – in this case, at the time of filing the original return, or when an amended return is filed – for the innocent spouse provision to apply. [Quote from the Tax Court: “Tax law is of course filled with such traps and has never been viewed as a garden of efficiency …”]
WHAT WOULD YOU DECIDE?
Make your selection, then see “The Court’s Decision” below for a full explanation
THE COURT’S DECISION
HL Carpenter, an experienced investor and a CPA, specializes in reader friendly articles on taxes and investing for individuals and small businesses, and publishes two newsletters: Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink. Visit TaxingLessons.com and HLCarpenter.com.
This information should not be considered legal, investment or tax advice. Taxing Lessons and Top Drawer Ink Corp. do not provide legal, investment or tax advice. Always consult your legal, investment and/or tax advisor regarding your personal situation.