When two taxpayers decide to marry and one of them owes taxes to the IRS, special planning needs to take place in order to protect the spouse not liable for any tax liability. Since state law determines what the IRS can and cannot do, advice cannot be given in terms of every situations. It is important to consult with an attorney in your state to find out the laws governing your marriage.
Prenuptial Agreement for Tax Debt
In most cases though, a prenuptial agreement between two taxpayers prior to marriage will protect the non-liable spouse assuming the documents are properly drafted. In this agreement, both taxpayers agree that what they bring into the marriage as their separate property or separate debt will remain separate after the marriage has been finalized.
It is important to list all the assets and debts including tax liabilities within the prenuptial agreement. Without this detailed breakdown, the IRS can scrutinize the document and by pass it in court if it does not hold up. It is also very important that the non-liable spouse does commingle assets with the liable spouse because it can theoretically void the prenuptial agreement. It is important to keep all the financial assets and liabilities separate and continue to do so throughout the entire marriage.