Responsible for spouse's unpaid taxes while separated?

I’ve been living apart – legally separated in NC but without a signed separation agreement – for 5 years and am prepared now to file for divorce. I’ve just found out that my husband has not paid taxes for at least 4 years on funds that he has withdrawn from his tax-deferred retirement account – funds that were put into that account while we were still living together. He has not had a job for the last few years and has apparently been living on the retirement monies – which are (were) marital property. He’s also informed me that he is dropping his health insurance coverage (BCBS-Individual plan) next month.

  1. Am I in any way exposed to IRS action against me for his non-payment of taxes on these retirement account withdrawals? We have filed separate head-of-household tax returns since we split, and all of our finances have been separate since that time.
  2. Am I responsible for his medical bills if he gets sick or injured?
  3. Am I responsible for any other bills that he might have that he’s not paying?
    We do still have some joint property (land) that hasn’t been divided yet.

If he has incurred tax debt you are not liable for the same, so long as you did not file joint tax returns with him over the past 4 years.

You are not responsible for his bills.

What if we reconcile without having signed a separation agreement? Would I be responsible for the unpaid taxes and debts he has incurred during this time? We have been living completely separate for several years with no intimate contact during this time but have stayed on friendly terms and made parenting decisions together.

No, the debt would be his separate debt since it was incurred while you were separated.

One last follow-up question. If we reconcile and I then buy a home with my credit and my savings in my name only, would half of the equity in this home be his if we later decide to divorce? Should I buy a house while we are still separated to avoid this issue? Thank you.

If you buy a home after you have reconciled, it will be marital property. I suggest that you enter into a Free Trade Agreement and buy the home while you are separated.