A reader's spouse didn't turn in his taxes this year. What happens now?

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Question: I just found out my husband didn’t submit our income taxes this year. He got laid off and I got furloughed one day a week at my job, so apparently, he just decided to skip a year. I’m really afraid the IRS is going to come take our car or our home, but my husband says not to worry — the worst that will happen is we’ll get audited, and even that’s pretty rare.

I love him, but in this case, I don’t trust him. When I search the Internet, I get lots of conflicting information. What’s the truth, Mr. Dvorkin?

— Liz in Georgia

Do you owe a lot to the IRS and fear you won’t get caught up? Take a look at our solutions.

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Howard Dvorkin CPA answers…

The IRS isn’t like grade school: You can never skip a year. The IRS can indeed seize your property and assets with powerful weapons like a federal tax lien and a bank levy. It may take some time before the IRS catches up to you and your husband, but trust me, it will.

Perhaps no financial problem I deal with on Debt.com is more serious than tax debt. While credit card debt has many paths to financial freedom — consolidationdebt management, and credit counseling — your options with the IRS are much more limited.

Before I recommend (actually, insist upon) a course of action, please read What is Tax Debt? This brief report is sobering, especially with numbers like this: “At most, the IRS can charge a 25 percent penalty on the total tax debt amount.”

If there’s any good news here, it’s this: The IRS doesn’t want to use the scary weapons it has in its arsenal. If you work with them, they’ll work with you.

While Debt.com offers self-help advice like Do-It-Yourself Student Loan Consolidation, tax problems have such serious consequences, I urge you to consult a professional. You can call Debt.com at 1-888-472-0365 for a free consultation with one of our tax experts, but if not ours, call someone. Make sure they’re a tax attorney, not just someone hanging out a shingle and purporting to have tax experience.

The good news, Liz, is that if you act now and tell the IRS what’s happening before they come to you, a good tax debt service can really help you, and they can do it fast. Whatever you decide to do, don’t wait any longer to do it.

Have a debt question? Can’t find what you need to know? We can! Submit any debt or finance question you have, and we’ll tap a pro who will respond as quickly as possible.

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About the Author

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

Howard Dvorkin, CPA

I’m a certified public accountant who has authored two books on getting out of debt, Credit Hell and Power Up, and I am one of the personal finance experts for Debt.com. I have focused my professional endeavors in the consumer finance, technology, media and real estate industries creating not only Debt.com, but also Financial Apps and Start Fresh Today, among others. My personal finance advice has been included in countless articles, and has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Forbes and Entrepreneur as well as virtually every national and local newspaper in the country. Everyone should have a reason for living that’s bigger than themselves, and besides my family, mine is this: Teaching Americans how to live happily within their means. To me, money is not the root of all evil. Poor money management is. Money cannot buy happiness, but going into debt always buys misery. That’s why I launched Debt.com. I’m glad you’re here.

Published by Debt.com, LLC