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Old 03-24-2009, 10:38 PM
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tax question: missing spouses' SSN

Ok, I was married last year and am in the middle of a divorce. I go to file my 1040, and there's a place for spouses SSN, and it says "if you are married filing separately, you must put your spouses SSN. I don't know what it is and don't have any way to get this information. I got a copy of my marriage license, since I dimly seemed to remember them asking for it, but it's not on there. My divorce lawyer (who is not a tax lawyer) advised me to put zeroes in the space. This doesn't seem like a good idea. I asked someone from H&R Block and she said she didn't know, but didn't think I should take the lawyers advice.

Any tax lawyers or people that have been in this situation here? It's getting close to tax time and I'm getting nervous.
Old 03-24-2009, 10:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypso View Post
Ok, I was married last year and am in the middle of a divorce. I go to file my 1040, and there's a place for spouses SSN, and it says "if you are married filing separately, you must put your spouses SSN. I don't know what it is and don't have any way to get this information. I got a copy of my marriage license, since I dimly seemed to remember them asking for it, but it's not on there. My divorce lawyer (who is not a tax lawyer) advised me to put zeroes in the space. This doesn't seem like a good idea. I asked someone from H&R Block and she said she didn't know, but didn't think I should take the lawyers advice.

Any tax lawyers or people that have been in this situation here? It's getting close to tax time and I'm getting nervous.
When you say you were you married last year do you mean that's when the wedding took place? If you were married in 2007 or before, your wife's SSN should be on previous year's 1040s and the IRS should be able to tell you what it is.
Old 03-24-2009, 11:03 PM
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Well what are your options here? Since you say you can't get the info, you can't get the info, so leaving it blank seems like the best thing to do. If you are using turbo tax or the like and it won't let you leave it blank, then you could file on paper and leave it blank.
Old 03-25-2009, 06:45 AM
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Call the IRS. They should be able to tell you how to handle it. I would suggest you call 2 or 3 times to make sure you get the same answer. Seriously.

BTW I find it very strange that your divorce is not yet final, yet your divorce lawyer didn't say, "Well, let me just call your spouse's lawyer and we'll find out in a jiffy." I would think the two lawyers would have to continue a dialog until the divorce is final.

Last edited by CookingWithGas; 03-25-2009 at 06:47 AM.
Old 03-25-2009, 10:32 AM
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Zeroes are generally used to indicate that a person does not have a Social Security number. Hospitals use them on intake forms for illegal patients and the like.

Er... can't you just look at your old tax returns?
Old 03-25-2009, 10:38 AM
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The thing is, your ex-to-be will need your SSN, too, right? Isn't she in the same boat?

There's no reason why, even if the two of you can't communicate this exchange of information between you, your lawyers shouldn't be able to do so.
Old 03-25-2009, 10:42 AM
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Don't leave it blank or use zeroes.
Quote:
Originally Posted by IRS
Penalty for not providing social security number. If you do not include your SSN or the SSN of your spouse or dependent as required, you may have to pay a penalty. See the discussion on Penalties, later, for more information.
Quote:
Failure to supply social security number. If you do not include your SSN or the SSN of another person where required on a return, statement, or other document, you will be subject to a penalty of $50 for each failure. You will also be subject to a penalty of $50 if you do not give your SSN to another person when it is required on a return, statement, or other document.
Old 03-25-2009, 11:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
The thing is, your ex-to-be will need your SSN, too, right? Isn't she in the same boat?

There's no reason why, even if the two of you can't communicate this exchange of information between you, your lawyers shouldn't be able to do so.
Not an option

Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Zeroes are generally used to indicate that a person does not have a Social Security number. Hospitals use them on intake forms for illegal patients and the like.

Er... can't you just look at your old tax returns?
We were not married in 2007, there is no prior tax return to look at.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CookingWithGas View Post
Call the IRS. They should be able to tell you how to handle it. I would suggest you call 2 or 3 times to make sure you get the same answer. Seriously.

BTW I find it very strange that your divorce is not yet final, yet your divorce lawyer didn't say, "Well, let me just call your spouse's lawyer and we'll find out in a jiffy." I would think the two lawyers would have to continue a dialog until the divorce is final.
I don't think she has a lawyer and she's going with the "ignore everything that's going on around me" strategy. It's a long and bizarre story and I really don't want to get into it here. I am not sure of all the terminology, but basically if the other party does not respond to a motion for divorce within 90 days, after a 2 year period they serve her with papers and it becomes a divorce whether she signs or not. I called the IRS and they said if you do not supply the spouses SSN you may incur a $50 penalty for failing to provide information. I asked if they would still process my return and they said yes. I just don't want to leave it blank, file, then have it sent back to me saying they can't process it without her SSN, then get in trouble for not filing a return. The person from the IRS said I might try calling the Social Security office, but she didn't have any other suggestions.
Old 03-25-2009, 11:50 AM
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That's a rough situation to be in, but in that case, I'd go with CookingWithGas's advice.

Can your lawyer not obtain her SSN through some other means? Bank records? Credit check?

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 03-25-2009 at 11:53 AM.
Old 03-25-2009, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Apocalypso View Post
The person from the IRS said I might try calling the Social Security office, but she didn't have any other suggestions.
The Social Security Administration won't give out the SSN of a non-minor under any circumstances, even to a spouse, unless you've been granted power of attorney.

They definitely won't give it to an ex-spouse.
Old 03-25-2009, 12:29 PM
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Yeah the SS office won't give me the info. The IRS is of no help. I guess I will have to send it in blank with a note explaining I don't have and can't get the info, and hope I don't get fined, or that it's not too much if I do.
Old 03-25-2009, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
That's a rough situation to be in, but in that case, I'd go with CookingWithGas's advice.

Can your lawyer not obtain her SSN through some other means? Bank records? Credit check?
Probably, but time and money are an issue. I only have about 3 weeks to file. Lawyers are expensive, and I'd rather just pay a $50 fine to the IRS than $500 to my lawyer to play private detective.
Old 03-25-2009, 01:55 PM
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The IRS wants to know her SSN so that they can match up your return to hers. If you file using the Married Filing Separately (MFS) status, they will make sure that she did the same. Without the SSN, they will have a more difficult time doing that.

Do you know that she is filing a MFS return or that she is filing a return at all? I'm guessing that you don't. If she doesn't file MFS and you do, you'll both probably find letters from the IRS in your mailboxes within 18 months demanding that you get your stories straight.
Old 03-25-2009, 04:46 PM
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Any joint bank accounts, credit cards, leases, mortgages or the like? Both SSNs might be on those.
Old 03-25-2009, 05:53 PM
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Any non-mental-case relatives you can ask?
Old 03-25-2009, 06:36 PM
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Maybe I'm the mental-case here, but why not file as single? If your 2007 and earlier returns were filed as single, I don't see why the IRS would take a second look at it.
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Old 03-25-2009, 08:54 PM
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The penalty for failure to file a return sets a very low bar for what qualifies as a "return,' so I wouldn't worry that they'll reject the return and impose that penalty.
Old 03-25-2009, 10:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tastes of Chocolate View Post
Any joint bank accounts, credit cards, leases, mortgages or the like? Both SSNs might be on those.
No. We don't own anything jointly, including property, bank accts, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SmellMyWort View Post
Any non-mental-case relatives you can ask?
I don't know of any that have been in a similar situation, no.
Quote:
Originally Posted by SCSimmons View Post
Maybe I'm the mental-case here, but why not file as single? If your 2007 and earlier returns were filed as single, I don't see why the IRS would take a second look at it.
My lawyer advised me not to do this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rand Rover View Post
The penalty for failure to file a return sets a very low bar for what qualifies as a "return,' so I wouldn't worry that they'll reject the return and impose that penalty.
That's what I was told when I called the IRS, that they'd process the return, but I might get penalized. I don't want to pay penalties unless there's absolutely no other option. I'm poor, my car is falling apart, and have a shitty job, so I don't have much cash to spare.
Old 03-26-2009, 01:01 AM
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You have nothing joint, you were married for about 15 minutes, and you don't know her SSN?

Sounds like this tax return is the least of your issues/problems...
Old 03-26-2009, 01:59 AM
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Originally Posted by SmellMyWort View Post
Any non-mental-case relatives you can ask?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apocalypso View Post
I don't know of any that have been in a similar situation, no.
I believe the suggestion was any relatives of hers. Maybe her sister can and will get her SSN for you.
Old 03-26-2009, 02:19 AM
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What about looking on your marriage license?

Here in Minnesota, you both have to provide SSN's when applying for a marriage license.
Old 03-26-2009, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
What about looking on your marriage license?
Covered in the OP.
Old 03-26-2009, 10:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Don't leave it blank or use zeroes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IRS
Penalty for not providing social security number. If you do not include your SSN or the SSN of your spouse or dependent as required, you may have to pay a penalty. See the discussion on Penalties, later, for more information.
Quote:
Failure to supply social security number. If you do not include your SSN or the SSN of another person where required on a return, statement, or other document, you will be subject to a penalty of $50 for each failure. You will also be subject to a penalty of $50 if you do not give your SSN to another person when it is required on a return, statement, or other document.
(Bolding mine.)

I may not be thinking this through all the way, but why not request an extension of time to file. Then you can send her a certified letter with a W-9 and give her something like 3 weeks to fill out and return the W-9. If she gives you her SSN, then you're all set. If she doesn't, you have proof that you requested it and she's on the hook with the IRS for not providing it when required.
Old 03-26-2009, 11:30 AM
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Hmm, do that many men really have a nuclear-powered submarine? If so he sounds like a good catch.

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Old 03-26-2009, 08:16 PM
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Originally Posted by EJsGirl View Post
You have nothing joint, you were married for about 15 minutes, and you don't know her SSN?

Sounds like this tax return is the least of your issues/problems...
It's also none of your damn business. I'm looking for a factual answer to a specific question, if you're not interested in at least pointing me to where I can get the info from than don't post in this thread.
Old 03-26-2009, 10:32 PM
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Well, ordinarily I would point you in the direction of your spouse. You know, the logical, adult-type answer. I can't imagine that anyone else on this board who is married doesn't know (or can't readily find) their spouse's SSN.

And since this is GQ, that's about it, I guess.
Old 03-27-2009, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by EJsGirl View Post
Well, ordinarily I would point you....
I don't see the need to rub salt in the wounds here.
Old 03-27-2009, 10:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EJsGirl View Post
Well, ordinarily I would point you in the direction of your spouse. You know, the logical, adult-type answer. I can't imagine that anyone else on this board who is married doesn't know (or can't readily find) their spouse's SSN.

And since this is GQ, that's about it, I guess.
[Moderating]

I do think your first post was out of line here, and didn't really serve to address the question. The OP's situation is clearly different from that of most people. Please refrain from these kind of remarks in the future.

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Old 03-27-2009, 10:59 AM
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Sounds like the $50 penalty is the lesser of all possible evils. At least you know the amount (and there is a chance they won't notice and fine you). Everything else is more expensive.

If I may, what reason did your lawyer give for not filing singly? It sounds like the easiest way to go since you had no goods in common.
Old 03-27-2009, 11:05 AM
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You have to file according to your status on the last day of the tax year. The OP was (and is) still married, so he might be kind of effed if he gets audited if he files as single.

Remember, marriage licenses are public record, and it's not like the IRS couldn't check them even if they weren't.
Old 03-27-2009, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Apocalypso View Post
I got a copy of my marriage license, since I dimly seemed to remember them asking for it, but it's not on there.
Assuming your memory is correct, perhaps the SSNs are on the form you used to request a marriage license, even if they're not on the actual license? You can easily verify this by going back to the license bureau and asking to see a blank form. If it does ask for SSNs, you can then ask them if they keep the completed applications for marriage licenses.
Old 03-27-2009, 12:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Nava View Post
I believe the suggestion was any relatives of hers. Maybe her sister can and will get her SSN for you.
Yep, this is what I meant. Maybe even her parents. Explain the situation and that you'll both be screwed if you don't exchange numbers.
Old 03-27-2009, 04:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sapo
Sounds like the $50 penalty is the lesser of all possible evils. At least you know the amount (and there is a chance they won't notice and fine you). Everything else is more expensive.

If I may, what reason did your lawyer give for not filing singly? It sounds like the easiest way to go since you had no goods in common.
Yeah, that's pretty much what I'm thinking. I'd rather not have to pay anything at all, but $50 is not too bad. Having the lawyer open communications or hiring an investigator or some of the other options people have given would cost more than $50.
Why not file as single? What Really Not All That Bright said. If they decide to take a closer look at my return, I'd probably get in more trouble filing single than filing married filing separately and leaving her SSN blank. I've no idea what she's planning on filing as, since she's refusing to communicate with me or the lawyer at all. But I'll probably hold off until April 14th on the off chance that she'll come to her senses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Assuming your memory is correct, perhaps the SSNs are on the form you used to request a marriage license, even if they're not on the actual license? You can easily verify this by going back to the license bureau and asking to see a blank form. If it does ask for SSNs, you can then ask them if they keep the completed applications for marriage licenses.
That's an idea. I'll stop by the courthouse and ask.
Old 03-27-2009, 05:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Apocalypso View Post
My lawyer advised me not to do this.
That's the same lawyer that suggested you put in 000-00-0000, right?
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Old 03-27-2009, 08:44 PM
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Not the same situation at all, but when we didn't withhold enough one year, we wrote them an explanation and included it with our return. We could have been subject to penalties for this, but weren't.

In your case, you could include an explanation that you don't know her SSN, you can't contact her, and you have no other way of finding it out. Include any information that might help them to match the correct person with her name with you. Maybe write "See note" in the SSN space. I suspect that they aren't required to fine you, and that if you show diligence on your part, they may waive the fine.
Old 03-27-2009, 09:12 PM
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About the $50 fine... it has been mentioned to just go a head and pay it. But, will that get you off the hook? It is likely the IRS will still want that info, even after the fine. I'm failing to see why your lawyer cannot get this info for you (not getting "not an option"). If anything, that should be part of a divorce lawyers job.
Old 03-28-2009, 11:20 AM
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Any medical records - like shared medical benefits have the SSN?
Old 03-28-2009, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ParentalAdvisory View Post
About the $50 fine... it has been mentioned to just go a head and pay it. But, will that get you off the hook? It is likely the IRS will still want that info, even after the fine. I'm failing to see why your lawyer cannot get this info for you (not getting "not an option"). If anything, that should be part of a divorce lawyers job.
Because he'll most likely hire a private investigator or someone similar to find the information, and it'll cost a lot more than if I'd have hired one on my own, since he'll add hundreds of dollars of his own fees + the PI fees. Second, at this point I am reasonably certain that I can not include her SSN and my return will still be processed. If it "gets me off the hook", fine, if not, I'll deal with that issue when and if it arises.

Quote:
Any medical records - like shared medical benefits have the SSN?
No, neither of us have jobs where we get medical insurance or benefits. Plus her sister is a doctor so she gets free treatment/medicine/advice. And no, I can't contact her sister and ask her for help. She (the sister) has married herself and moved to a different state, and I don't have any contact info for her. I've only met her sister's hubby once and I don't even remember his first name, let alone his last.
Old 03-28-2009, 11:37 PM
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Because he'll most likely hire a private investigator or someone similar to find the information, and it'll cost a lot more than if I'd have hired one on my own, since he'll add hundreds of dollars of his own fees + the PI fees. Second, at this point I am reasonably certain that I can not include her SSN and my return will still be processed. If it "gets me off the hook", fine, if not, I'll deal with that issue when and if it arises.
A PI? Can't he just serve her with legal documents as part of the divorce? Something to the effect of "divorce contingent on lawfully filing his and her taxes, we need this from you ASAP". You're already paying him I assume... as you said, "...am in the middle of a divorce". Which to me means you are not quite done with this lawyer guy yet until the divorce in finallized. I'm not trying to pry or pick on you, I just think your lawyer guy sucks to be honest. This seems like something that should be standard practice in divorce cases.
Old 03-29-2009, 01:14 AM
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When you sign your return you're making a sworn statement that everything in it is correct to the best of your knowledge. If you file as a single when you know you're married you could be charged with perjury. Same thing with putting in zeroes. It would be much better to leave the SSN blank - that way you're not lying under oath.
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Old 03-29-2009, 01:02 PM
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You say in the OP that you dimly remember being asked for SSN when you got your marriage license, but it's not on the license. How about the application for the license?

Last edited by AuntiePam; 03-29-2009 at 01:02 PM.
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