My Spouse is Deceased

Will The IRS Pursue Collection From My Spouse?

IRC 6331 | Innocent Spouse | Joint Bank Account | TaxFortressThe answer to this question will depend on whether the liability is a joint liability or separate liability and whether you live in a community property state or not.

If the IRS liability is a JOINT liability then YES, the IRS may levy both your and your spouse’s wages, assets, and/or accounts.  When it comes to wages, IRS guidelines suggest that only the spouse with the higher income should be levied (a wage levy is the IRS term for a wage garnishment).  But, in cases where the taxpayer is refusing to pay, the instruction is to levy both spouses’ wages.  Keep in mind that a portion of wages will be exempt from levy, so the IRS can’t take all of your or your spouse’s wages.  Social Security income can be levied too.

If the IRS liability is yours alone, and you do not fall under the laws of a community property state, then it is a SEPARATE liability and the IRS may NOT levy your non-liable spouse’s wages, assets, or bank accounts.  However, if you live in a community property state it does not matter that your liability is separate, meaning that your spouse’s wages, assets, and bank accounts can be levied.  See below for more details on this important exception.  Also note that the IRS must comply with a series of procedures before it can levy wages, bank accounts, and other assets.

IRC 6331 Joint Bank Account Levies

If you have a joint bank account with your spouse, then YES, that account can be levied even though the IRS liability is separate and your spouse is not liable.  If you have a joint account with anyone else for that matter, the funds in that account can be levied.  The IRS can take funds from an account if your name is attached to it as if it all belonged to you.  This applies to joint retirement accounts or savings accounts and safety deposit boxes.  If your name is on it, the IRS can take it.

The IRS can usually find accounts with your name on them because all banking institutions have to share account information with the IRS.  The Internal Revenue Code Section 6331 gives the IRS the authority to levy your accounts and the Supreme Court in 1985 held that this collection remedy gives the IRS the authority to determine the rights of the innocent third party involved. Ouch!

Recommendation:  if the IRS is in a position to levy you, and your spouse is not liable for the tax debt, do not deposit your spouse’s (or a third party’s) funds into your accounts.  Better yet, resolve the tax liability prior to enforcement so that neither of you gets levied.

IRS Collection In Community Property States

In community property states, your spouse’s wages and bank accounts can be levied even though your spouse is not liable, and even if you keep separate bank accounts.  There are nine community property states listed below.  Some states allow 50% of your spouse’s property to be community property while other states allow for 100% of your spouse’s property to be community property.  So, depending on what your state allows, the IRS may be able to collect from a spouse either 50% or 100% of the community property even if that spouse is not liable.

If you live in a community property state, it provides property rights in your spouse’s property creating “community property” from which your creditors, like the IRS, can collect.  Therefore, the IRS can levy your spouse’s wages and bank accounts even though your spouse is not liable.

Community Property states are:

  • California 100%
  • Idaho 100%
  • Louisiana 100%
  • Arizona 50% (With some variation)
  • Nevada 50%
  • New Mexico 50%
  • Texas 50% (With some variation)
  • Washington 50%
  • Wisconsin 50% (With some variation)

For example, if you live in California and your non-liable spouse has $1000 in a separate bank account, it can all be levied.  But, if you live in Arizona, only 50% of that $1000, or $500, is subject to levy.

In California, the IRS can calculate a wage levy against your non-liable spouse based on 100% of his or her wages.  In Arizona, the IRS would calculate a wage levy based on only 50% of your non-liable spouse’s wages.  Remember, the IRS wage levy exemption prohibits them from taking 100% of your or your spouse’s take home pay.

A levy against your wages is typically continuous; that is, one levy against your wages will continue to take the non-exempt portion of your wages until the liability is paid or you get them to stop the levy.  A levy against your non-liable spouse, however, is not continuous.  So the IRS would have to issue a separate levy each time it wishes to take your non-liable spouse’s wages.

The IRS can levy your non-liable spouse’s separate bank accounts, IRA or 401(k) if it believes the funds in those accounts are community property.  For example, if you live in a community property state where 100% of your spouse’s earnings are community property, then your spouse’s 401(k) can be levied at 100% to satisfy your liability.  It will be up to you or your spouse to prove to the IRS that the funds in the 401(k) were not community property.

If you have a pre-marital agreement opting out of the community property of the spouse which you entered into before the tax liability was incurred (or could reasonably be anticipated), then your non-liable spouse’s property would be considered separate and unreachable by the IRS.  However, the IRS may be unaware of the pre-marital agreement, in which case it could proceed with enforcement against your spouse, leaving you with the task of proving, after the fact, that the levied assets are not community property.

Your non-liable spouse will get a copy of the levy notice sent to the bank or employer.  Both you and your spouse have the right to appeal the levy under the IRS Collection Appeal Program.

It is well understood that debt, in general, and IRS tax debt in particular, is stressful on a marriage.   In a community property state, the consequences of your tax debt on your marriage can be especially devastating.   Imagine you live in California.  Before you get married, you were happy go lucky and forgot to file (and pay) a few tax returns.  Five years later, you’re married, and out of the blue, the IRS starts levying your spouse’s wages.  Your spouse had nothing to do with your past tax debt, but now he or she is involuntarily paying it off with his or her wages.  No matter how kind and understanding of a spouse you have, he or she is probably not going to be happy about this.  You would be well served to resolve your back tax liability before it gets to this stage.

Enforcement, such as wage and bank account levies, does not happen immediately after a tax liability comes into existence.  There is a process of collection that builds up to enforcement, so it does not have to come to that.   If your situation is handled properly, you should be able to avoid enforcement from the IRS in most cases.  Seek advice from a tax professional, particularly if you incur a tax debt which you are unable to pay in full promptly.   ATABS is here to help!



If you enrolled in coverage through the Marketplace you will need the information on Form 1095-A to complete Form 8962 to reconcile any advance payments of the premium tax credit or claim the premium tax credit, and to file a complete and accurate tax return. If you need a copy of your Form 1095-A, you should go to or your state Marketplace website and log into your Marketplace account, or call your Marketplace call center. Although information from the Form 1095-C - information about an offer of employer provided coverage - can assist you in determining eligibility for the premium tax credit, it is not necessary to have Form 1095-C to file your return. See Publication 974 for additional information on claiming the premium tax credit.

You do not have to wait for either Form 1095-B or 1095-C from your coverage provider or employer to file your individual income tax return. You can use other forms of documentation, in lieu of the Form 1095 information returns to prepare your tax return. Other forms of documentation that would provide proof of your insurance coverage include.

  • insurance cards,
  • explanation of benefits
  • statements from your insurer,
  • W-2 or payroll statements reflecting health insurance deductions,
  • records of advance payments of the premium tax credit and
  • other statements indicating that you, or a member of your family, had health care coverage.

Look out for Form 1095 A, B, and or C to arrive in the mail.

 Form 1095-A is used to report certain information to the IRS about individuals who enroll in a qualified health plan through the Marketplace

Form 1095-B is used to report certain information to the IRS and to taxpayers about individuals who are covered by minimum essential coverage and therefore are not liable for the individual shared responsibility payment.

Form 1095-C is filed and furnished to any employee of an Applicable Large Employers (ALE) member who is a full-time employee for one or more months of the calendar. ALE members must report that information for all twelve months of the calendar year for each employee.

We need the 1095 and apparently, any 1099R that has tax withheld.


Fee Schedule

Fees below are effective October 21, 2017.

Most industry surveys confirm that the fees we charge for our professional services are very reasonable and competitive. They are also not negotiable. If the price is your most important consideration, and you find someone else who will work cheaper, go for it, but remember that you "get what you pay for".


Tax planning, consultations, or e-mail consultations that require research, document preparation, or longer exchanges, are billed at $180/hour in 30 minute increments of $90 each from the start of the session. NOTE: Information provided to us during Tax Return Preparation is confidential but subject to subpoena, whereas Tax Planning and Business Consultations are “Privileged Communications” not subject to subpoena.
INCORPORATION /LLC FORMATION ("For-profit") carries a fee of $950.00 prepaid as a (non-refundable) Minimum Fee Retainer that includes
• All initial Secretary of State and Corporation Commission fees, such as Filing initial Statement of Information (regarding Officers & Directors),
• Preparing standard form Charter Documents such as Articles of Incorporation (or Operating Agreement for an LLC), and By-Laws
• Obtaining Federal and State Employer ID numbers,
• Helping you through the tax decision of S-Corporation Election (Form 2553),
• Two (2) Hours of Business Consulting, including 1 year of Registered Agent service.
NOTE: Other States may have additional charges. You must incorporate (or register as a 'Foreign' entity to do business) in the State where your business physically resides or has activities that qualify as "doing business."

NOTE: We are happy to conduct Annual Meetings of Shareholders/Directors during your Corporate Tax Return Appointment at no additional cost (if we prepare both your corporate and your personal return), but it is your responsibility to document such meetings and retain your Minutes. Minutes do not have to be sent anywhere; they just have to be kept in the event there is a question or challenge by someone trying to sue you. If you want us to draft and maintain such minutes there will be an added charge of $75 per meeting providing the entire session is no longer than one hour. Nothing discussed in Shareholder/Director meetings or in filling out requisite forms is intended to be, nor should you consider it to be, legal advice.

NON-PROFIT INCORPORATION carries a fee of $1,200.00 prepaid as a (non-refundable) Minimum Fee Retainer that includes:
• Secretary of State and other fees, excluding Federal fees to secure Tax Exempt (501) Status,
• Preparing standard form Charter Documents such as Articles of Incorporation (or Articles of Association for an Unincorporated Association), and By-Laws
• Obtaining Federal and State Employer ID numbers,
• Participating in one pre-formation Organizational meeting, Hosting and acting as Secretary for your First Meeting of Directors (no other Business Consulting is included),
• Filing initial Statement of Information (RE Officers & Directors), and Drafting your Tax Exempt Application (Form 1023EZ/1023/1024 as appropriate for the type of Non-Profit activity)
• 1 year of Registered Agent service.
NOTE: Creating a Non-Profit entity (whether or not it is Incorporated) does not automatically make it Tax Exempt or able to issue tax deductible receipts for Donations.

EXISTING NON-PROFIT entity REQUEST for TAX EXEMPTION carries a Document Preparation Fee of $450 that includes compiling IRS Form 1023/1024 depending on type of Non-Profit) plus Registration as a Charity with the Attorney General, and participating in follow-up interaction with IRS until they issue their Determination Letter. This fee applies to Non-Profit entities that we did not create.

NOTE: IRS requires a $400 Filing Fee if the organization’s annual Gross Receipts will be $50,000 or less. IRS requires an $850 Filing Fee if the annual Gross Receipts will be greater than $50,000. Our fee does include the CA Form 3500 fee of $25 and the Registry of Charitable Trust Basic Fee of $25.

MERGER or DISSOLUTION fee for a Corporation or LLC is $75.00 (in addition to any State Filing Fees). The $75 includes a certified copy fee that the State charges.


If you are in business, you MUST maintain a formal set of Books of Account that will be requested if you ever have an Audit. We can help you with that (see our fees below). Be warned that IRS is now routinely requiring, during business audits, an electronic copy of Taxpayer's self-maintained QuickBooks File if that information was used in tax return preparation.

QUICKBOOKS file setup (whether we will do the Bookkeeping or for those who want to do it themselves) is subject to a non-refundable, Minimum Fee Retainer of $150.

QUICKEN conversion (to make your file useful for tax preparation), and related QUICKBOOKS TRAINING conducted only in our office, are $75/hour subject to a one hour (non-refundable) Minimum Fee Retainer of $75.

BOOKKEEPING SERVICE fees are prepaid monthly (at the start of each month's service), are based on the time and expertise required, completeness of your data, and timeliness in receipt of your data. Our pricing "rule" is $1.00/transaction, or $75/hour whichever is greater, but not less than $75/month for Financial Statements issued, (note that deposits are posted as a single transaction unless your business requires tracking each deposit, sale, product or item). NOTE: Writing and/or signing checks (with your rubber stamp signature) costs $7.00/check (discounts available for Non-Profits).


"YEAR-END" BOOKKEEPING. December and January are two of our busiest months due to tax agency deadlines--if you cannot possibly bring in your records until then we cannot guarantee your return will not need to be extended, and you will be billed at the same rates above but subject to a non-refundable, Minimum Fee Retainer of $900 ($75 x 12 months). Work will begin on your "Year-End" Bookkeeping after we receive your Retainer.

BILLING POLICY. Invoiced Accounts that are not paid in full within 30-days are subject to $10/month Late Penalty Fee. Checks Returned for ANY reason, or amounts charged back Credit Card payments are subject to a $50 NSF, Returned Item, or Credit Card Chargeback Penalty Fee. NOTE: Any payments received after a Penalty Fee is assessed are applied first to such Fees assessed, and the balance of the amount originally owed.

PAYROLL SERVICE is provided through affiliates in that field. Call for an estimated fee for your situation. Fees depend on services requested which may include writing checks on your account (for your signature), direct deposit, debit and payment of taxes and quarterly tax filings. Year-end reporting is provided if service is uninterrupted through year-end.

TAX RETURN PREPARATION fees are based on forms used in the return AND THE TIME AND EXPERTISE REQUIRED, include Electronic filing and any one State filing. Tax Returns will not be released to the client for removal from our office (even in "draft" printed or PDF format), or e-filed until our fees are paid in full.

• $60 Form 1040EZ ~ $40 for a 1040EZ for your Dependent Child/Student under age 24 if we prepare your return.
• $120 Form 1040/1040A (no itemized deductions)
• $75 Itemized Deductions Schedule-A, PLUS:
• $35 Form 2106 Unreimbursed Employee Expense
• $25 Form 8829 Employee Office in the Home
• $20 Form 8863 Education Credits
• $5 Form 1095-OTR Health Insurance Coverage
• $25 Form 8962 Health Insurance Premium Tax Credit
• $25 Form 8965 Health coverage Exemption
• $10 Form 8283 Non-Cash Donations Greater Than $500 per Recipient
• $15 Form 4952 Investment Interest Expense
• $35 Form 4684 Casualty Losses, per loss, except for Presidentially Declared Disaster Losses which are free of charge.
• $15 Interest & Dividend Income Schedule-B. If you have a Foreign account or Trust, a separate form will be required and the fee is $100.
• $195 Business Schedule-C or Farm Schedule-F (Minimum fee) – our Average last year was $275, including Auto Expense Worksheet (up to 3 vehicles - additional vehicles $15 each), Depreciation Form 4562, Office in Home Form 8829, and Self-Employment Tax Schedule SE. Businesses are Audit Targets. Income verification required, bring your business bank statements, and completed bookkeeping. (IF YOU BRING ONLY RECEIPTS AND BANK STATEMENTS, YOU WILL BE CHARGED $75/HR IN ADDITION TO THE MINIMUM FEE.)
• $20 Capital Gain/Loss Schedule-D (non-business)
• $45 Capital Gain/Loss Form 4794 (business or rental) each sale
• $75 Rental Income Schedule-E (Residential and Commercial Rentals) (Minimum Fee per each property and includes Depreciation Form 4562, and Passive Loss Limitation Form 8582 and related Worksheets). Income and Depreciation on Rentals are Audit Targets. Bring your prop statements and HUD statements from purchase and Improvement Loans.
• $75 Farm Rental-Form 4835 (per each property and includes Depreciation Form 4562, and Passive Loss Limitation Form 8582 and related Worksheets)
• $20 per page Gambling Winnings Forms W2G, (up to 4 forms per page)
• $5 per Wage Income Form W2, for each in excess of 4 forms
• $5 per Retirement/Pension Income Forms 1099-R, for each in excess of 4 forms
• $5 per Miscellaneous Income Forms 1099-MISC, for each in excess of 3 forms
• $50 Extensions (pre-paid)
• $75 ($195 total) Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) (parents with children) due to new "due diligence" requirements placed by IRS on Tax Preparers we shall require the following, additional documentation to be provided by the Taxpayer: school, child care provider, landlord, medical or other records that designate the child’s place of residency as that of the Taxpayer; if child is disabled a Doctor, health care provider, or Social Services agency statement; if parent is self-employed a copy of your business license, and records of gross receipts and expenses provided by Taxpayer. NOTE: We are now required to retain these documents for 3 years.
• $100 CA Registered Domestic Partners (RDP’s), whether mixed gender or same gender unions must file separate, de-coupled federal and state returns reflecting full information on both parties. This fee is in addition to the per form fees for the returns based on the above. RDP's must be registered with the CA Secretary of State, and may file joint returns at the State level while at the Federal level they file individual returns but splitting income and expense as if filing married-Separate.
• $100 First Time Homebuyer Tax Credits (are claimed on "paper-filed" tax returns and are different for Federal and California, require extensive documentation to be provided by the taxpayer). Fee is $50 for Federal only credit. This fee is in addition to the fees for the returns based on the above.
• $50 each for 2nd or additional State returns.
• $125 Minimum Fee Retainer for Amendments
Not all Forms/Schedules that may be needed for your return are listed above.

Prior year Non-Filers must pay a $195 per year, Non-refundable, Minimum Fee Retainer, execute an IRS Power of Attorney Form 2848, provide full relevant documentation (before our work commences), and must also agree to have no further direct contact with IRS.

2. CORPORATION ("C" or "S"), PARTNERSHIP, LLC RETURNS preparation fees are based on the time and expertise required, and the complexity and degree of organization of your data.

Corporate or LLC Minimum Fee is $575 (plus $15 for each participant Schedule-K-1) for a Services only entity that does not require a Balance Sheet (i.e., Gross Receipts are under $250,000 and Total Corporate Assets are under $250,000, or $600,000 in Assets for Partnership/LLC). Fee charged includes electronic filing (if available) and one State Return if required.

NOTE: If the entity sells products, carries inventory, or exceeds the above amounts, the return will be required to file a Balance Sheet -- that will add $175 to the Minimum Fee, making it $750. If additional Schedules or Forms are required there will be an additional fee for each such Schedule of Form.

NOTE: Our bookkeeping clients receive a discount of $100 on the Corporate tax return fees.

3. ESTATE RETURNS ("Death Taxes") are subject to a $1,200 Non Refundable Minimum Fee Retainer, require the execution of a Form 2848 IRS Power of Attorney by the Executor, and are based on the time and expertise required, the degree of organization of your data and supporting documents, and whether there are any challenges by the IRS to Asset Valuations reported.

4. NON-PROFIT RETURNS (for Taxable Foundations or Sec. 501(c) Tax-Exempt Organizations), Forms 990 or 990EZ, are based on the time and expertise required and the degree of organization of your data. Minimum Fee is $575 providing there is no "Unrelated Business Income" (that is taxable and requires an additional Form 990-T filing with a Minimum Fee of $125). Fees include electronic filing (if available) and one State.

5. TRUST RETURNS (Fiduciary Returns) are based on the time and expertise required and the degree of organization of your data. Minimum Fee is $475 (for a Simple or Grantor Living Trust), or $600 (for a Complex or Decedent's Estate Trust), plus $15 for each Beneficiary Schedule-K-1. Fee includes electronic filing (if available) and one State. If additional Schedules or Forms are required there will be an additional fee for each.

TAX AUDIT REPRESENTATION fees are hourly based, subject to a $2,160 prepaid, non-refundable, Minimum Fee Retainer PER INCOME TAX YEAR UNDER AUDIT, and do not include any subsequent Appeals or Tax Court Hearings or related filings. Tax Audits are increasingly being conducted by correspondence (those more often than not end up in Appeals), sometimes at the IRS' office locally, but more often are held in our office if the return involves a business.

NOTE: If you undertake the Audit yourself or our office did not prepare the original return and subsequently turn it over to us for Reconsideration (a Re-do by a different Audit Group) or Appeals, the Minimum Fee Retainer will be $2,825 PER TAX YEAR UNDER AUDIT.

If the Audit scope or complexity increases and more time is needed than is covered by the above Retainer, you will be asked to provide additional funds.

TAX AUDIT APPEALS (or Collections) fees are hourly based, subject to a non-refundable, $600 prepaid, Minimum Fee Retainer per Income Tax Year if we handled the underlying Audit. If we are taking over from someone else the Minimum Retainer will be $1800.

TAX REPRESENTATION (Outside of Income Tax Audit), such as Reviewing and Responding to an IRS CP-2000 "Notice of Proposed Assessment" (based on omissions on your tax return), or other tax agency matters (EDD, FTB, BOE, or other) that require written replies or telephone resolution are subject to a $125 non-refundable Minimum Fee Retainer -- avoid this fee by reporting ALL your income in the original return!

THIRD PARTY WRITTEN COMMUNICATIONS, such as standardized Lender Letters (often required for some refinancing), are subject to a fee of $60 (plus $5 transmission fee) and their content will contain language that protects our firm from lender lawsuits if your loan goes bad.
SECRETARY OF STATE ANNUAL FILINGS, such as Statement of information require a Filing Fee of $25 payable to the Secretary of State and a processing Fee for our service of $25.

$60 NO SHOW FEE. We charge a $60 NO SHOW FEE if your tax appointment is NOT canceled OR rescheduled AT LEAST 24 hours prior. This fee is payable when your return is finally done.

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I don't know of a government that does not tax its citizens.  Many people like to debate about who should be paying and how much, alas that is not the concern of the tax preparer.

The tax preparer is only concerned with making sure you deduct what it cost you to make your money...

For you GAMBLERS...

Do you enjoy wagering at casinos and participating in other games of chance? The IRS requires you to pay tax on your fair share of winnings as reported by the "house."

Alert: The IRS has issued new final reporting regulations that address the rules for reporting payments from bingo, keno and slot machine winnings. (IRS Reg. 1.6041-10, 12/29/16)

Specifically, the IRS simplified and updated existing rules for providing required information.

Here's the whole story: For starters, you must pay tax on gambling winnings, but you can offset some of the tax by substantiating losses up to the amount of the winnings. To keep track of winning amounts, the IRS generally requires reporting for $600 or more in a year, but prior regulations established higher amounts of $1,200 for bingo games and slot machines and $1,500 from keno. These payments are reported on Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings.

Among other requirements, Form W-2G must include the name, address and taxpayer identification number of the recipient and a general description of two forms of identification used to verify this information.

Following up on proposed regulations issued in 2015, the new final regs contain the following clarifications:

  • Reportable winnings for bingo means winnings of $1,200 or more from one bingo game without reduction for the amount wagered. All winnings received from all wagers made during one bingo game are combined.
  • Reportable winnings for keno means winnings of $1,500 or more from one keno game reduced by the amount wagered on the same keno game. All winnings received from all wagers made during one keno game are combined.
  • Reportable winnings for slot machines means winnings of $1,200 or more from one slot machine play without reduction for the amount wagered.

Tip: The new final regs are generally effective for gambling winnings from bingo, keno and slot machines reported after 2016.



Copyright 2017 Business Management Daily, a division of Capitol Information Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


Unfortunately, many people mistakenly believe all CPAs do Tax Preparation when this is not the case.  CPAs have their work cut out for them keeping up with income and expenditures for businesses and do not specialize in tax law nor tax preparation!  Some DO prepare, but do not expect them to be better at it than seasoned tax preparers.  If you are not incorporated, nor have publicly traded stock, you probably don't need a CPA.  Corporations submitting "audited books" are REQUIRED to have them signed by a CPA.   Sole proprietors will fare better and cheaper with a Tax Pro.  Many CPA firms have Tax Pros working for them...

What does THIS STATEMENT Presuppose?

When long-term disability premiums (LTD) are paid with pre-tax dollars, the monthly disability benefit becomes taxable income.

The BENEFIT should FAR EXCEED the amount paid in PREMIUMS.  Taxing the benefit instead of the amount paid appears greedy.  The premiums paid in advance of the retirement period is money being used by the Insurer immediately and possibly long term.

Don't they (The Insurer) have to pay taxes on that money as INCOME?  How many times is the Government trying to get paid on that money?

Ok, so the money having been made by you and spent on insurance, but "not counted" for tax purposes is money the Government loses.  It is also a lost deduction because you are not supposed to claim it as an expense although it was.

I wonder which is greater, the loss of the tax to them, or the deduction to you annually?

So to make up for the loss of the amount of tax on that little money, they will tax ALL THE MONEY IN THE BENEFIT when you start getting it!  That just seems over the top to me. IJS

You're not just another client!