Earlier this week, a reader inquired about whether or not he was required to include his spouse’s income when filing his Offer in Compromise. The reason it was in question is because they maintain completely separate financial lives. They file separate tax returns, have separate bank accounts, and don’t even title anything jointly.
Before you question why somebody would do something like that, there are actually numerous reasons for doing so, especially in regards to various aspects of state law. There are also business and asset protection reasons for keeping things separate. For example, if one spouse owns a business or is involved in a profession or activity with a high degree of litigation, then keeping different financial houses can be a good idea.
Here’s the answer to the question: Believe it or not, even if only one person owes the tax liability, the income (and allowable expenses) of everybody in a household must be taken into consideration in the Offer in Compromise application process. This applies to everybody living in the home — even people just renting a room from you.
Now of course, your representative will work to get the non-responsible party’s income and expenses taken off the reporting requirements. Under the tax code, the only person responsible for an IRS tax debt is the person against whom it is assessed, and nobody else.
If you need help with your Offer in Compromise, search our directory to find a tax firm near you that specializes in IRS Collections representation.