Asking for Kind-of-ex-husband: how to deal with large federal tax debt?
May 21, 2014 8:52 PM Subscribe
I am writing this on behalf of my almost-ex-husband. He has owed between $80,000 and $100,000 to the IRS since 2003 and has done almost nothing about it. More details inside.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We separated at the very end of 2001, but have not gotten divorced yet because we were too lazy and poor to pay the fee ($215). In fact, I mailed in the divorce papers today.
In 2002, the year after we separated, ex worked as a contractor for part of the year on a 1099, and his taxes were not deducted from his paycheck. The following April he got a huge tax bill in the neighborhood of $45,000. He repeated this the following year. He wasn't able to pay any of it at the time. I believe he owes roughly $80,000 to $100,000 with fines and penalties. We are still legally married, and I was afraid I was legally liable for his tax debt. Since 2002 we have been filing our taxes as Married, Filing Separately.
Periodically the IRS would contact him demanding payment and threatening him with wage garnishment. I don't know how he convinced them to refrain from garnishing his wages, and I believe he has paid them only very tiny amounts over the years.
He always claimed he couldn't afford a lawyer, so never got help. About 5 years ago he contacted a lawyer he found online (!) for help. As far as I can tell, he worked with them for around a year, paid them a monthly retainer, but they never actually did anything. At my urging, he "fired" them.
Last year he contacted a local lawyer, referred by a friend. He met with the lawyer once or twice last year; He said the lawyer told him he could claim bankruptcy. Ex never followed up because he couldn't pay for more time.
Recently ex met with same lawyer again and arranged a barter: IT help in exchange for legal advice. Ex reported that lawyer said, because husband hasn't heard anything in many months from IRS, no bills or anything, that husband could just ignore the whole thing and hope the IRS has forgotten about him. When I said that didn't sound like a good idea (at BEST he'd have this hanging over his head like the sword of Damocles for the rest of his life!), husband said lawyer reiterated that husband could declare bankruptcy. There has been no follow-up.
Is this a legit option? Can ex file bankruptcy for an IRS debt? Ex works full-time as a contractor, so no job security. Bad credit, no credit cards, no property or assets, some personal debt, no savings or retirement funds. What are his options? I'm particularly concerned because A.) I don't want to be responsible or liable for his debt, and B.) I have been largely unemployed for a long time and am a full-time student and kids and I rely solely on the ex for my income. I am hoping to get a decent job when I graduate in December, but will still need child support from ex. He seems to be paralyzed about this issue and unwilling to do anything.