Your questions touch on a few different areas, including changing one's tax filing status and setting up an installment agreement. The best solution to your situation depends, in part, on whether you can get cooperation from your wife.
Amending a Return
Even after a tax return is filed, it can be changed. You change a tax return by filing an amended tax return. There are three main reasons to amend your tax return.
- To change your filing status
- To adjust your income
- To correct deductions or credits you reported inaccurately
You need to use IRS Form 1040X to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. You have to file your amended return by paper, mailing it in or submitting it an IRS Tax Office. You can't e-file an amended return.
Changing Filing Status
You are allowed to file an amended return that changes your tax filing status from "married filing separately" to "married filing jointly." This means, in your case, that your wife can amend her return and the two of you can file a jointly filed return. Of course, you can only do this if she agrees. If not, you're stuck with filing your own "married filing separately" return.
If the two of you file a new return, any tax debt owed will be the 100% responsibility of each of you. I imagine that your wife could be reluctant to file if she is left with a debt of any size, even if it reduces your tax debt.
Setting up an Installment Agreement
If you are not able to get your wife to agree to file an amended, married filing jointly return that wipes out the tax debt or if the amended return still leaves a debt that you can't afford to pay outright, you will need to set up an IRS installment agreement. It is very important to set up an installment agreement, as it protects you from the IRS moving to garnish your pay or levying your bank account. An IRS bank levy can result in the entire amount you owe being seized in one withdrawal.
Don't Amend for Every Error
You don't file an amended tax return for every mistake that you make on a tax return. For instance you generally don't amend a return:
- To Correct Math Errors- The IRS will automatically make that correction.
- You Forgot to Attach Tax Form- If you forgot to attach your W-2 or a certain tax schedule, the IRS will normally send you a request asking you to submit them.
Don't forget to amend your state tax return, too, if you made the same errors on it or want to change the filing status you used on it.
I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.