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BEWARE OF TAX RETURNS PENDING DIVORCE

A recently divorced lady told me she had filed a joint tax return during her marriage to her husband. Two years later she received a notice from the IRS that her spouse had failed to report a bonus, and they were both being assessed taxes on the deficiency. Persons entering a troubled time in their marriage or entering divorce proceedings should take great care in regard to income taxes. While it is often advantageous to both to file a joint return, a mistake or fraud on the part of the other spouse can become a joint liability affecting the non-offending spouse. If joint returns have been filed, care should be taken in drafting divorce agreement language which indemnifies each spouse from fraud or mistake by the other, but this will not absolve a tax payer from liability to the IRS.