General Question

JLeslie's avatar

If my husband and I received IRS penalty notices do we owe just the one amount?

Asked by JLeslie (65474points) 1 week ago from iPhone

My husband and I made a mistake regarding filing our taxes and we owe a penalty. We file as married filing jointly.

We each received the exact same notice, same amount owed and both under his SS#. Let’s say it’s $100 to make it simple.

Do we owe $100 total or $200?

I don’t know if the IRS is notifying each of us of the total amount owed or splitting the amount in half each. Why wouldn’t there be just one notice with both of our names?

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12 Answers

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

You can actually call them. I’ve called about matters. They’re very helpful and polite in my experience.

JLeslie's avatar

I will call on Monday. I actually called 6 weeks ago asking if I will owe a penalty and the rep said she wasn’t 100% sure, but she said she didn’t think so, just pay what I owe in full by April 15th and I won’t be penalized. She reassured me that she had worked for the IRS many years, and since a lot of the income was interest and dividends I shouldn’t owe anything she has never seen a penalty if you pay in full.

I had called the IRS, because my EA said I don’t owe any interest or penalty, and I didn’t trust her opinion.

Then, when I received my tax return from the EA she had a form filled out saying I owed $1,000 in penalties. I asked her why she filled out the sheet if I supposedly don’t owe any penalty according to her, and she replied since I brought it up she filled it out.

Ugh. It’s so triggering for me. I HATE knowing more than professionals in their field. I don’t feel at all like I know it all, just the opposite. Just enough to not trust. Just enough so I am right a lot, but of course not always.

So, I read up and asked an accountant friend a couple of Q’s and told my EA to delete that page and I’ll wait to see if the IRS penalizes me. I asked if I owe a penalty if it will continue to increase after April 15th, and people told me no, but I didn’t completely trust it, but I risked it.

Now, I received two notices that are actually $502 each, not like the $100 example in the OP and since my EA’s number was $1,000 (I’m rounding) it’s so close to double that it is confusing.

I guess the IRS can check the account and tell me concretely under both my husband’s SS# and mine how much is owed and it won’t be just some sort of educated or uneducated guess this time. That is why I will call.


I feel like the notice should clearly state if this is a joint return a copy is sent to the other spouse but only pay the one amount, if that is the case, but it doesn’t.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Since it has only your husband’s SS#, it would be logical it is only the $502 But like @Hawaii_Jake said call they are very nice in person and on the phone….

Zaku's avatar

When filing jointly, their computer sends a notice to each concerned party, but it shouldn’t be that they divide the amounts required in half and ask each party for their share.

So don’t double it.

There’s also a potential confusion because what you owe them is one thing, and the amount of any penalty is another. In the cases where I owed them an actual penalty (for not having filed any estimated quarterly payments), on top of what I owed them, the penalty itself tended to be quite small. Penalties for an estimation mistake tend to only apply if you’ve made a mistake multiple years in a row, or something.

seawulf575's avatar

How did they notify you?

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 Two letters. One addressed to my husband’s name and one to me. Exactly the same letter.

@Zaku I should have sent in more taxes during the year, it’s a two part mistake we made. 1. My husband failed to fill his W4 to take out extra, which we usually do to cover the earnings I make, plus if we have some extra interest and dividends. 2. I put a lot of money in a fund that I was told was tax free but it wasn’t. Plus, we made more than usual in interest anyway.

I assumed it was the one amount not to double it, but wanted to be sure. Kind of like a married couple both own their house 100%.

seawulf575's avatar

Call them to be sure, but if you filed jointly it is one sum. They sent out two letters because as a co-filer, you are both liable for the amount. They have to notify both of you.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 That seems to be the consensus. That was my guess too, but it should explicitly say it in my opinion to reduce phone calls to the IRS.

seawulf575's avatar

@JLeslie Yeah, I’m echoing what everyone already said. I was more concerned about how they notified you because there is a current scam going on about e-mails and texts going out to people from the “IRS”. They look real but the IRS doesn’t contact anyone via e-mail or text for collections things.

JLeslie's avatar

@seawulf575 I knew what you were worried about. Thanks for checking. :)

SnipSnip's avatar

Call the IRS.

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