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How Do We Deal with IRS Debt Now That the Divorce is Final?

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As the old saying goes, “[I]n life – only two things are certain: death and taxes.” Unfortunately, marriage isn’t included on that list of certainties, meaning that in the increasingly common case of divorce, IRS debt and back taxes may have you and your ex-spouse scratching your heads and biting your nails. Not to worry, though. IRS tax debt is generally treated like any other debt of the marriage. This means that in Texas, where property and debt brought into a marriage is treated as “separate personal property,” this debt is assigned to the spouse who brought it into the marriage. So if back taxes were brought into the marriage in Texas, the back taxes would remain the responsibility of the spouse who brought them to the marriage. Conversely, if you and your ex-spouse encountered the tax debt during the marriage, that debt will be considered community property – as you likely filed taxes jointly. This “community property” (or lack thereof) will leave you both responsible for paying the piper. Keep in mind that in terms of filing taxes, if your divorce was not final by the end of the year (December 31), then you will need to file as married for that calendar year. And here’s the kicker – even if you choose to file separate returns before the divorce is final, you may be held legally responsible for a fraudulent return filed by your spouse (yikes).

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