Tax Court Denies Equitable Relief to Joint Filer


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As far as federal income taxes go, it’s usually “until death do us part” for joint filers, but a recent Tax Court case ruled otherwise.

There are times when the tax law provides a way out for one spouse or the other, as in Brooks, TC Memo 2019-5, 3/18/19, where a husband petitioned the Tax Court for equitable relief after his wife’s obligations were discharged due to bankruptcy.

Generally, married taxpayers who file a joint tax return are “jointly and severally” liable for any tax that is due. In other words, the IRS can pursue tax payments from either spouse or both. However, a joint filer may elect to seek relief from joint and several liabilities under several exceptions in the tax code.

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