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Will the IRS honor a divorce decree?

Question: My divorce decree specifies that my ex is supposed to be responsible for any federal income taxes owed. My ex is not holding up his part of the bargain. Now the IRS is garnishing my wages. Will the IRS honor our divorce decree?

Answer: No. Unfortunately, federal law trumps state law. Generally speaking, when you file a joint return, you are both liable for any tax, additions to tax, interest, or penalties that arise from the joint return. The exception to the joint liability rule is innocent spouse relief. If the IRS grants innocent spouse relief, then you may escape part or all of the liability associated with the return.