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Divorce and Income Tax Problems: Strategies for Resolving IRS Disputes and Liabilities in Divorce Proceedings

Note: CPE credit is not offered on this program

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
This program is included with the Strafford All-Access Pass. Click for more information.

Conducted on Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Recorded event now available

or call 1-800-926-7926

This CLE course will guide family law practitioners about how to resolve tax delinquencies, disputes, and controversies when a couple is divorcing. The tax issue may be known at the time divorce is initiated or arise afterward, or even come into existence because of the divorce. This webinar will discuss options for dealing with tax disputes in divorce, refunds claimed by both spouses, and the proper way to file while the divorce is pending.


Tax issues can sabotage all aspects of family law, especially divorce and custody proceedings. Of paramount importance, counsel should make helping their clients avoid or remove a tax lien a top priority.

Sometimes the parties are aware of tax issues when they seek divorce. In such cases, they may be able to negotiate settlement with the IRS through one of several options, such as installment agreements and offers in compromise. The IRS also offers taxpayers penalty abatements in some situations. How the liabilities are apportioned and enforced between the parties requires careful planning and drafting.

Other times tax problems are uncovered or arise only during divorce proceedings. Even then, if the divorcing taxpayers have, for example, failed to file tax returns or under-reported tax liability, they still may be able to mitigate the situation with the help of savvy counsel before the IRS or other taxing entity can assess penalities.

At times, counsel will need to seek relief from joint and several liability due to the actions of the other spouse, such as one spounse fling a joint return without the knowledge of the other or failing to report income. Sometimes one spouse will appropriate a refund without the knowledge of the other. A common solution for getting relief from a joint tax liability is for one taxpayer to file for innocent spouse relief, which permits legal and financial relief under certain strict criteria.

Listen as the panel examines the kinds of common and uncommon tax problems present in family law litigation and divorce.



  1. Known tax disputes at time of filing
  2. Tax disputes that emerge after filing
  3. Tax issues of debt exposures/forgiveness of the ex-spouse
  4. Relief from joint and several liability
  5. Innocent spouse relief
  6. Separation of liability
  7. Equitable relief


The panel will review these and other key issues:

  • How can counsel identify income tax issues with divorced or divorcing parties?
  • How have the courts resolved tax disputes in or after a divorce?
  • What are the options when only one spouse incurs tax liabilities?
  • What are the alternatives when one spouse has committed a tax crime?


Burris, Kelly
Kelly L. Burris

Senior Litigation Partner
Cordell & Cordell

Ms. Burris has settled and litigated complex custody cases and property cases involving multi-million dollar estates....  |  Read More

Shilts, Josh

Shilts CPA

Mr. Shilts provides law firms, corporations, individuals, trustees, receivers and government entities with expert...  |  Read More

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