Can I Find Out If My Husband Filed For Divorce – Filing a joint return is generally considered the default option for married couples. However, if one of the spouses actually neglects to sign, many problems can follow. The authors partially clarify the provisions regarding the validity of unsigned statements and offer several remedies for couples and counselors who are caught off guard.
If one spouse does not sign Form 1040 with the other, the consequences are often overlooked or ignored. What should they expect when the tax administration informs taxpayers that the form is incomplete? Is it possible to calculate the tax consequences? Will the statute of limitations remain open? What is the taxpayer’s defense in this situation? This article addresses these and other questions to start a conversation between CPAs and the couples they serve should such a situation ever arise.
Can I Find Out If My Husband Filed For Divorce
Generally, married taxpayers may file a joint federal income tax return [Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 6013(a)]. Whether a husband and wife intend to file a joint return is important in determining whether a tax return can be considered a joint return [
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22 TC 893, 900-901 (1954)]. When assessing the intention, it is taken into account whether the non-signatory spouse submitted a separate declaration, whether the non-signatory spouse objected to the joint declaration, and whether it appears from the previous history of notifications that he intends to file a joint declaration. (
IRC Section 6061(a) requires that all returns or other documents required to be filed under Internal Revenue laws or regulations must be signed. The regulations require the signatures of both spouses on a joint tax return [Treasury Regulations § 1.6012-1(a)(5)]. Form 1040 has space for both spouses’ signatures and states, “If you file a joint return, you must both sign.” The instructions for Form 1040 have the same requirement and clearly state that Form 1040 is not considered a valid tax return unless it is signed by the taxpayer.
There are two exceptions to this general rule. First, a spouse may sign the statement on behalf of the other spouse if he or she is acting as that spouse’s agent and meets the requirements of Treasury Regulations section 1.6012-1(a)(5). Whenever an agent makes, signs, or files a return, it must be accompanied by a power of attorney authorizing the agent to represent his principal in making, executing, or filing the return. Second, if one of the spouses is physically unable to sign the joint return due to illness or disability, the other spouse may, with the verbal consent of the disabled spouse, sign the name of the disabled spouse in the correct place on the return, followed by the words “By husband (or wife)” and the signer’s signature . The tax return must be accompanied by a statement explaining the circumstances that prevent the non-signatory spouse from signing the return.
Tax return signatures not only certify that the person listed on the front of Form 1040 filed the return, but also certify (under penalty of perjury) that all information on the tax return is true, correct, and completed to the best of the taxpayer’s knowledge. (see IRC section 6065). Spouses must understand that it is a felony to sign or sign any statement, declaration, or other document supported by a written statement given under penalty of perjury that the spouse believes is not true and correct in all material respects [IRC § 7206 (1 )]. Also note that the PIN acts as a signature for returns submitted electronically.
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After this election, both spouses are jointly and severally liable for the tax for the entire taxable year [IRC § 6013(d)(3); Look
114 TC 276, 282 (2000)]. However, the petitioning spouse may claim relief from joint liability under IRC § 6015(b) or, if eligible, may share liability under IRC § 6015(c).
If there is no signature on the joint income tax return, IRC § 6651 may impose a tax increase if the return is not timely filed when due, “unless it is shown that the error was due to reasonable cause rather than willful neglect.” This is 5% for each month late, up to a total of 25%.
“Reasonable cause” requires that the taxpayer demonstrate that, despite ordinary business care and caution, he failed to file a federal income tax return by the deadline [
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469 US 241, 246 (1985); Treasury Regulations § 301.6651-1(c)]. Willful neglect is defined as “a knowing, deliberate mistake or reckless indifference” (
). The main question is whether the taxpayers acted with ordinary business care and caution in handling the original joint tax return. A secondary issue is whether the taxpayers exercised ordinary business care and caution in handling the original return when the IRS sent it back because one of the signatures intended to stop the section 6651 penalty was missing. If the amendments to the original return show that the taxpayers knew that the signature was missing and that the declaration would be inadequate for some business purposes due to the missing signature, but nothing was done, such conduct is not in accordance with the standard of ordinary business care and caution. (
The majority rule in the federal court system is that an unsigned declaration does not start the statute of limitations.
Generally, the burden of proof is on the taxpayer, unless otherwise provided by statute or ordered by a federal court [Rule 142(a)(1)]. If the spouse does not sign the presumed joint return, the IRS must provide proof that the joint return was filed [
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T.C. Memo 1991-502]. While taxpayers have the ultimate burden of proof, the IRS bears the burden of providing evidence on the basis of which a court could conclude that the taxpayers intended to file a joint return (
T.C. Memorandum 1991-262). The IRS also bears the burden of proving the individual’s liability for any increase in tax under IRC section 6651(a)(1) and any allegations in the taxpayer’s answer relating to the increase in IRC section 6651(a)(1). ) amount [IRC § 7491(c); 142(a)(1)]. The obligation to provide reasonable cause under Rule 6651(a) rests with the taxpayer (
280 U.S.C. 453, 459-460 (1930)]. Additionally, case law has significantly modified the IRC’s apparently mandatory language regarding compliance with tax reporting requirements. Actually in
Judge Benjamin N. Cardozo, speaking for the court, stated that while deficiencies and inaccuracies must be corrected at the time the return was filed, if the return “purports to be a return, it is sworn as such … and shows an honest and genuine effort to uphold the law,” is saved from nullity.
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Have confirmed that even a fraudulent return may be sufficient for the statute of limitations if such a return clearly meets
[82 T.C. 766, 777 (1984), aff’d per curiam, 793 F.2d 139 (6th Cir. 1986)] explained the elements of the Supreme Court’s test
To determine whether the filing of a document is sufficient to toll the statute of limitations under IRC § 6651(a)(1). The
The test includes four separate elements: 1) the taxpayer must complete a perjury report under penalties, 2) the statement must contain sufficient information to calculate the tax liability, 3) the document must be a tax return; and 4) the statement must reflect a fair and reasonable attempt to comply with the requirements of the tax law.
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The majority rule in the federal court system is that an unsigned declaration does not begin to become statute of limitations [
505 F.2d 506, 508 (2d Cir.1974)]. The general rule when a tax return is unsigned is that it is incorrect [
270 F.3d 1297, 1300 (10th Cir.2001), aff’g T.C. Memo 1999-426]; therefore, the signature of the taxpayer is a condition for the validity of the tax return in terms of statute of limitations [
81 F.3d 1274, 1280 (3rd Cir.1996), 109 T.C. 125 (1997)]. Failure to comply with the refund conditions is fatal to the validity and timeliness of the refund [
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An incorrect return remains invalid even if accepted and processed by the tax authorities; reception cannot correct an incorrect return (e.g.
). Also, acceptance of a refund and payment by the IRS does not relieve the statutory requirements of a valid refund (
T.C. Memorandum. 2007-291). Additionally, IRS personnel cannot waive the signature requirement for a valid joint return (
T.C. Memorandum. 2002-5). The refund requirements to trigger the statute of limitations are the same as those in the IRC section 6651(a)(1) analysis (
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); Thus, the signatures of both spouses on a joint return are required to meet the eligibility requirements under IRC Section 6651(a)(1). If the IRS sends back a tax return to taxpayers with instructions to correct it if there is no W-2 and one signature, and the taxpayer resubmits the return within the time limit set by the IRS,
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