Some people have the unpleasant surprise of receiving a large tax bill from the IRS after they divorce because of their former spouse's dishonesty in how the tax return was prepared. In the event that a person's marriage is rocky, they should take preventative steps to make certain they do not fall victim to possible future tax liability due to their spouse's actions.
Sometimes, a spouse will underreport income for several years in order to secure larger tax refunds. They may run up large tax debts unbeknownst to their spouse with the idea that the debt will be equally divided by the court as part of their divorce. The IRS will often goes after the party with the higher income for 100 percent of the tax liability, even if the other one is the person who ran up the tax debt.
Those who are innocent may do several things to avoid this potential problem. First, they should not rely on their spouse to complete the tax return on their own and simply sign off on the return. Second, they need to review tax returns carefully before filing them, and they should possibly use the services of an accountant or other professional to prepare the tax return. In some cases, it may be a good idea to file separately in order to avoid liability for the spouse's tax debts. Those who fall victim to this dishonest behavior have a chance to obtain relief as an innocent spouse by timely filing the appropriate form with the IRS.
People sometimes discover that their spouses committed dishonest acts with tax returns when the divorce proceedings are taking place. They thus may want to seek the help of an attorney to get transcripts of their tax returns directly from the IRS and should notify the court of any wrongdoing in order to have the tax debt properly allocated during the property division phase.