Jointly owing IRS?

If you are separated, are you responsible if your husband has a debt with the IRS?

QUESTION: Steven is a pastor and is counseling a woman who is in extreme financial distress.  She and her husband are separated and he owes the IRS.  Is she liable for his IRS debts or any other debts of his?

ANSWER: She is not liable if she filed separately, but they can take anything that has both her and her husband’s name on it.

She’s scared right now and she needs to focus on her basic needs: food, shelter, clothing, transportation and utilities.  She needs to do those things before she does anything else, even if that means she can’t pay on anything else.

She does not need to file bankruptcy.  She just needs a plan.  First, deal with the IRS issue, if she is held responsible for any part of her husband’s debt.  Then take care of the bounced checks that have been turned over to the authorities.  Finally, try to settle whatever old medical bills and credit card debt that you can.