My husband and I have 2010-2013 taxes to file. He refuses to give me his income information because he believes the federal govt taxing us is unconstitutional. So I just had 4 years of taxes filed (no deductions) based just on my income and taxes withheld and have federal and state refunds amounting to about $7500. However, he refuses to sign the return. If I file Married Filing Separate I will OWE thousands of dollars plus penalties and interest for late filing and late payment. What can I do?

  • Is your husband employed, or is he making money through self-employment / other means?
    – Noah
    Aug 20, 2014 at 22:01
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    Has he heard of the 16th amendment? "The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration." Aug 20, 2014 at 23:27
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    @PeteBecker, have you heard of the concept of "tax protestor"? They generally reject the validity of the 16th amendment for one reason or another.
    – Mark
    Aug 21, 2014 at 0:46
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    @Mark - that's a new one on me. But I've heard of self-indulgent foolishness... Aug 21, 2014 at 1:58
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    One can debate the morality and constitutional legitimacy of income taxes, but the reality is that the courts have repeatedly ruled AGAINST people making these arguments, and have imposed harsh penalties on top of the taxes owed, and the police routinely enforce these rulings. He IS going to lose this fight, and end up owing a lot of money, if not serving jail time. Even if he's absolutely convinced that he's morally right, the people with the power to take his money and put him in jail don't agree, and they actively work to track down such tax protestors. It's not worth it.
    – Jay
    Aug 21, 2014 at 16:50

2 Answers 2


If you filed as married filing jointly and didn't include your husband's income, your reported income was incorrect. The joint return has to include the income from both spouses (see here). If you got a refund, it's likely because your reported income was artificially low (since it didn't include your husband's income).

Unfortunately your spouse has the right to refuse to file a joint return. See this IRS info and here, where it says:

If you and your spouse do not agree to file a joint return, you must use this filing status [married filing separately] unless you qualify for head of household status, discussed later.

You can look up the requirements for head of household; basically you would have to live apart from your huband for most of the year and also have a dependent.

It sounds like you are in a rough situation, but I don't think there is an easy solution. If your spouse does not consent to filing jointly, and you're not eligible to file as head of household, you must file separately as long as you remain married to him (unless you obtain a legal "decree of divorce or separate maintenance" as described in Publication 17, linked above).


If your husband believes that income tax is unconstitutional then he's bound to jail. You, on the other hand, are a separate individual making separate decisions.

If you do want to file a tax return and pay your taxes - you'll have to do it on your own, in this situation, as MFS. Yes, it means you'll pay more taxes because your husband is a jerk. No, nothing you can do about it unless he changes his mind.

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