February 28, 2023 8:36 pm

IRS Can Use Personal Blog Posts in Innocent Spouse Determination

Married persons filing jointly are jointly and severally liable for the tax, penalties, and interest on their returns. However, one spouse can be relieved of liability by qualifying as an innocent spouse. In one recent case, the Tax Court allowed the IRS to use as evidence the personal blog posts of one spouse of which the IRS became aware only after court proceedings began (Sydney Ann Chaney Thomas, 160 TC No. 4 (2023)).

The case involved a spouse who ran a sustainable sailing apparel brand and posted a lifestyle blog. She filed for innocent spouse relief for tax years 2012-2014 after her husband died in 2016. After the IRS denied her request, she went to Tax Court. The court allowed the IRS to introduce the blog posts as “newly discovered” evidence. These blogs had information about her assets, lifestyle, and business, as well as her relationship with her spouse. She argued that because the posts were public, the IRS should have found them earlier as part of “the administrative record” and can’t subsequently be used against her after the case goes to court. The Tax Court sided with the IRS, interpreting the meaning of “newly discovered” to include “recently obtained sight or knowledge of for the first time.” The Code, which was revised under the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, allows for “de novo” review, meaning the court can look at the case with all information and is not limited to the administrative review of the matter by the IRS.

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Tax Glossary

Statutory employees

Certain employees, such as full-time life insurance salespersons, who may report income and deductions on Schedule C, rather than on Schedule A as miscellaneous itemized deductions.

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