In Jones (CA9 2/03/2022) 129 AFTR 2d ¶2022-380, another innocent spouse was found to be not so innocent and is was decided that the Tax Court properly determined that a taxpayer's joint return was valid and she wasn't entitled to innocent spouse relief. The Tax Court's determination that the taxpayer consented to filing a joint return was supported by the record, according to the Ninth Circuit.
Innocent spouse relief. Generally, married individuals can file joint returns with their spouses. Spouses who file joint returns are jointly and severally liable for the tax liability reported on that return. However, an individual who has filed a joint return may seek relief from that joint liability under the innocent spouse procedures.
To be relieved of a tax liability on a joint return, a spouse seeking relief must, among other things, prove that when they signed the return (1) they didn't know and had no reason to know of the tax liability, and (2) they didn't have reason to know that their spouse wouldn't pay the tax due.
Lindsey Jones Argued That Her 2010 Joint Return, Which Was Filed After Her Divorce From Her Husband In November 2012 Was Invalid Because She Didn’t Consent To Filing A Joint Return And Her Ex-Husband Signed Her Name
To The Joint Return Without Her Consent.
However, the Tax Court found that even though Jones didn't sign the 2010 joint return, she consented to her former husband signing and filing it because:
1. she provided her ex-spouse with her W-2s and other tax information,
2. she failed to file a separate income tax return, and
3. she also allowed her current spouse to sign her name to their joint tax return. (Jones, TC Memo 2019-139)
The Ninth Circuit agreed that Jones was not entitled to innocent-spouse relief. The Tax Court properly determined that Jones's 2010 joint return was valid and she wasn't entitled to innocent- spouse relief, the Ninth Circuit held.
According to the Appeals Court, the Tax Court's finding that Jones had reason to know that her ex-husband couldn't pay the tax liability reported on their 2010 joint return was supported by the record.
In addition, given the circumstances (Jones and her ex-husband had to sell their home to satisfy their 2008 tax liability) she should have taken some steps to "assure herself" that the tax liabilities on the 2010 joint return would be paid.
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