Is there a way I can keep my taxes separate when I file my taxes next year instead of it being put toward the debt my wife and I owe to the IRS?

by David A. Caplan, CPA | Sep 20, 2018

My wife and I filed our taxes together in 2016 for the first time as a married couple. She received a 1099 as she did not have taxes withheld, so we owed the IRS. We have a payment plan setup that is in good standing. Last year I filed separately, and my taxes were taken and put toward the debt. Is there a way that when I file next year I can keep the taxes belonged to me?

No. Since you are married, you can only file jointly or separately, and in either case, your wife's Social Security number is listed on your return. The only way to stop the IRS from taking your refund would be to file a claim as innocent spouse. However, that only applies in the case that you, as the spouse, did not know that a liability was due. Your liability results from a joint return that you both signed and a payment plan that you both agreed to. Therefore, you cannot claim innocent spouse. At this point, you should not be filing separately as it gives you no advantage. In some cases, it can actually be detrimental.

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Answered by: David A. Caplan, CPA, is a sole practitioner in Lafayette Hill, Pa.

The responses are based on the limited information provided by the questioner and apply the laws and regulations at the time of posting. Other options could arise as rules and regulations may change over time, including but not limited to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. They are intended to provide general information, not specific accounting or tax advice; they are not intended or written to be used and cannot be used for the purpose of avoiding or evading taxes or penalties under the IRS code or regulations. Views expressed do not imply an opinion of the PICPA, its officers, directors, employees, or members.
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