Each year, millions of happily married American couples file their federal income tax forms jointly. When you file jointly, you are entitled to more deductions and other financial benefits that you would not get if you filed separately. For most couples, the idea of filing a joint federal tax return requires no thought at all. But if you are not involved in a happy marriage, or if your marriage is ending in divorce when tax filing season comes around, then you might find your spouse filing a joint return without your consent.
Is Filing A Joint Return Without Consent A Big Deal?
If your spouse files a joint federal tax return without your consent then that is considered fraud. Since it is fraud at a federal level, the penalties can be very severe and can range from large fines to potential jail time. Most married couples do not think about filing a non-consensual joint tax return as being a crime, which is why it is always a good idea to just make sure that each spouse is good with the joint return before it is sent.
Who Would File A Fraudulent Non-Consensual Joint Return?
The federal tax refunds associated with joint tax filings are often must larger than they are for separate returns. If a couple is in the middle of a divorce that is almost complete, one spouse might decide to use that last chance at a joint filing to file a non-consensual return. This would prevent the other spouse from being able to file a return, and it would also force the other spouse to sue in court to get their half of the return.
What Can I Do If My Ex-Spouse Files A Non-Consensual Joint Tax Return?
If you find out that your ex-spouse filed a joint return and never gave you your half of the refund, then you can sue to get your refund in family court. For the most part, getting your half of the return should be easy in court. But you will have to agree to the joint return in court to get your half of the money.
You can also file a report with the IRS saying that your ex-spouse filed a fraudulent return. The problem with filing a report with the IRS is that you may or may not get a response. If you do not get a response, then file your own return as single and the IRS will conduct an audit where you can have the situation resolved.
Filing a non-consensual joint federal tax return is considered fraud. If you are a victim of this type of fraud, then you should use the family court system to get your half of the refund.
Jim Treebold is a North Carolina based writer. He lives by the mantra of “Learn 1 new thing each day”! Jim loves to write, read, pedal around on his electric bike and dream of big things. Drop him a line if you like his writing, he loves hearing from his readers!