I've long suspected that my husband makes most of his money from criminal activities, but I still sign off on our joint tax return, which is prepared by one of his cronies. Can the government come after me for undeclared income?

Only an experienced tax expert can tell you for sure, but let's put it this way: you may want to start talking to an attorney now. Part of the problem here is what you mean by the word “suspect.” If you have been married to your husband for 20 years, and you know the types of people he consorts with, you may have a hard time convincing a judge or jury that you only “suspected” he was involved in criminal activities, rather than knowing for certain. Think of Carmela from “The Sopranos”: you can't be married to a New Jersey crime boss for a quarter of a century, living in a fancy suburban house, without knowing deep down where your money is coming from.

Things get even more complicated when taxes are involved. Technically, the IRS doesn't care whether your husband earned his money legally or illegally; it still wants its cut of the proceeds. If that joint tax return you signed is in any way fraudulent—say, your husband neglected to declare most of his income, or laundered the proceeds of his criminal enterprise to make them look legitimate—you may be on the hook as well. In the worst case, your husband may very well wind up in prison after a criminal prosecution, and the IRS will come after you to make good on your massive back tax bill—with the result that you'll have to cede your bank accounts, sell your house, and be forced out onto the street.

It's not an easy matter to own up to a criminal undertaking (even if you're not the one directly involved) and try to make amends with the government. Want to know more? Contact the Oklahoma tax experts at Travis W. Watkins, PC today (800-721-7054) to find out how we can help you through this difficult situation.