Tax installment agreements and past tax returns

Until this year (currently separated - I filed “married filing separately”), we have always filed our federal and state taxes as “married filing jointly”. My spouse’s information always pushed us into owing taxes every year, probably because he withheld the minimum even though he claimed that he didn’t. What happens to past installment agreements for federal taxes owed? Can I still be held responsible for them?

For tax year 2019, I filed “married filing separately” and was owed a refund. Most likely it will just be applied to past taxes owed from our years filing jointly.

Thanks for the information.

For past installment agreements with the IRS for taxes owed on tax returns that you filed jointly, you are still held responsible for those. The IRS will not care whether or not you are now separated or divorced and whether or not the tax debt is classified as a marital debt.

However, in a separation agreement or equitable distribution court order, you can include terms that the timely payment of the installment agreement(s) shall be the sole and separate responsibility of your husband and that he shall indemnify and hold you harmless from and against any and all liability associated with the same. This will not relieve your responsibility in the eyes of the IRS, but if you had to pay the IRS because your husband wasn’t, then you would have recourse directly with him to recoup your money.

Anna Ayscue

Attorney with Rosen Law Firm Cary • Chapel Hill • Durham • Raleigh • Wake Forest

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