Los Angeles, CA asked in Tax Law for California

Q: Is husband liable for Wife's tax debt when filing separately in a community law state?

My wife and I are married and filing separate returns in a community law state. She owes $7,000 in taxes and I owe 1,000. If she defaults, will IRS go after me to collect part of her debt? Are our debts considered community or separate?

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2 Lawyer Answers
David S. Greenberg
David S. Greenberg
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Tax Law Lawyer
  • San Diego, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In a community property state, your wife has a community interest in your income. The IRS therefore has standing to engage in enforced collection by way of levy of your wife's community interest in your income.

A separate property agreement would protect you from such enforced collection of your wife's interest in your income.

1 user found this answer helpful

Crista Marie Haynes
Crista Marie Haynes
Answered
  • Redlands, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: The IRS will only go after her if she defaults on the debt that she owes to them, HOWEVER, as the debt was acquired during your marriage, if you two were to divorce the debt itself is a community debt as it is attached to her income and her income is the income of the community, so technically speaking absent an agreement otherwise the total $8,000.00 would be equally split, $4000/$4000.

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