Is Wife Responsible for Tax Payments Owed by Soon-to-be Ex?

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“I live in NJ and am getting divorced from my husband. He has an outstanding tax bill for cigarettes he purchased “tax free”.  I’ve previously called NJ and was told that because it was his credit card and for personal consumption, I have no liablity. I just want to get your advice before the divorce is settled  to ensure there won’t be taxation attempts to garnish my wages, since he does not work.”

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This is a unique, and state-specific situation, so you really need to speak with both a New Jersey attorney, and the New Jersey tax authorities.  However, that said, generally speaking, if as you say the purchases were on his personal credit card, there should be no issue.  There is also the concept of the “innocent spouse” in tax law, which should protect you in the event that the tax authorities come after you.

All that said, however, it would be wise to have it written right in the divorce papers that the tax liability is not yours, and that it is assigned to, and only to, your husband.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.