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Lessons From the End of a Marriage

A “How to Thrive” Guide After Divorce

An Open Letter to the IRS

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I have written before about my experiences with the Innocent Spouse relief program with the IRS.  I have now received refunds for all of the years in question (I cried when each check came in).  They have asked me to complete a survey about my experiences with the program.  I am also sending this letter to show them the more personal side of their impact.

March 25, 2012

Dave Alito

Director, Compliance

Wage and Investment Division

I received the request for completing a survey about my experiences with the Innocent Spouse claim procedure.  I will be happy to fill this out; however, I also wanted to write a letter expressing more fully my experience with the process.

First, a little background on my story: In 2009, my partner of 16 years abruptly abandoned me with a text message.  He took all of the financial documents with him, which prompted me to dig into internet resources (he changed the passwords on all of the accounts), which indicated that he had been hiding major financial deceptions.  He then went on to commit felony bigamy within a week of leaving me.

Needless to say, I was devastated.  I lost everything: my husband, my dogs, my money, my home in one small text.  I held out hope that the legal system would allow some sort of justice.  They did not.  In the criminal trial, he was granted a diversion and was never held to the criteria of the judgment.  In the divorce case, he was ordered to remove my name from the mortgage and pay me back for taxes, attorneys, and some other expenses.  That never happened and the courts offered no support.  I felt like I was twice victimized; once by my husband and again by the legal system.  It was a frustrating and powerless feeling.

When I filed for Innocent Spouse relief, I held no real hope.  I expected this to go the way of the courts.  The day that I received the first letter that my claim was accepted was a huge turning point for me.  I felt validated, and as though I had regained some control over my life.  For the first time in the entire experience, I felt as though he would have to face the consequences of his actions.

The money I was refunded has allowed me a little more cushion as I struggle to rebuild my financial well-being.  Even more importantly; however, are the emotional funds I received that have helped me to no longer be a victim.  I want to thank the people involved in my case who saw through to his deceptions and gave me hope for my future.

Sincerely,

Lisa Arends

Maybe I should include the IRS in my Christmas letter list?  Oh, wait.  I never send Christmas cards…

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12 thoughts on “An Open Letter to the IRS

  1. I love that you’ve written this letter. It’s easy to complain about the bad stuff, but it’s equally important to express gratitude and say thank you for the good stuff. You’re such an awesome example, Lisa! 🙂

  2. Until I read your letter I’d never heard of the Innocent Spouse Relief Program. Wish I’d known about this 10 years ago. I, like you, felt twice victimized by the court system. Could it be that family court judges are primarily male judges with a chip on their shoulders? Hmmm . . .
    I’ll go back and read your blog from the beginning . . . I am now remarried to a wonderful man and while I had to sell my house and need to rebuild my finances at 58 years-old, I wouldn’t change a thing. I learned what I needed to learn and am happy and in love ; ) Best of luck to you . . .

    1. I was lucky that my dad found out about the innocent spouse program. It certainly isn’t advertised!

      I think the shortcomings in the court system go beyond the judges – mine was a strong woman who asked my husband’s attorney if his client was “psycho” (he could only shrug:) ). She ruled very much in my favor (as much as was possible) but the problem was that the court system had no way to back up the decree.

      I’m so glad to here you’re through it and happy on the other side. I’m there in most ways and the end is in sight for the financial rebuilding as well. It’s not a journey I would wish upon anyone, but the end results can be beautiful.

  3. Thank you for post.

    I would like to share on this topic.

    My daughter can not afford a lawyer. We have one we contact when we get stuck. That would be the Financial Statement Form.

    Turns out Ex has a long term relationship with the IRS going back before the marriage. IRS is dunning my daughter for pre- marriage debt. Yes.

    Thoughts for those in same situation.

    1. Know the difference between “Innocent Spouse” and “Injured Spouse”.

    2. Know when to file with the IRS. I have done internet search. Really hard to get answers. Tax lawyer would know if you can afford one.

    After file for legal separation?

    After file for divorce?

    Some states don’t have a legal separation. So after file for divorce or after divorce final? Haven’t found this answer yet. I am going to ask HR Block because state and IRS are not user friendly when looking for answers to this simple questions.

    This what I can share so far.

    1. Good info! Thank you for sharing. The IRS definitely does not make the process user friendly. I hope the best for your daughter as she goes through this.

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