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Making Cents: Keeping a Check on Soon-to-Be Ex

May 19, 1996

Suspicious of your spouse before the divorce is final? File separately. If your spouse cheats and the IRS catches on after the divorce--and when your ex is broke--you could be on the hook for the full tab. The only salvation is something called the innocent spouse rule. To apply, there has to be an underpayment exceeding $500 and you can't have known your spouse was cheating. There is also a test of inequity that says the IRS will not hold you, the innocent spouse, liable, for an amount exceeding 10% of your previous year's income.

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