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If a man dies can his widowed wife be held responsible for her late husband's back taxes of which she was unaware?

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To qualify for an Innocent Spouse, you must meet all the following conditions:
You must have filed a joint return that has an understatement of tax. The understatement of tax must be due to erroneous items of your spouse.
You must establish that at the time you signed the joint return, you did not know, and had no reason to know, that there was an understatement of tax.
Taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax; and You must request the relief within 2 years after the date on which the IRS first began collection activity against you. This is after July 22, 1998.
Under Separation of Liability you divide the understatement of tax on  
To be sure, you can be responsible for taxes you knew nothing about very easily. If you didn't know anything about the income causing the tax may be grounds for innocent spouse relief.
Innocent spouse relief is NOT a slam dunk. Along with and perhaps more defining of the previous, especially of the term "no reason to know" is the idea that it was hidden from you and you shouldn't have reasonably known, and you didn't benefit from it.  More OpinionsThe questioner does not state whether the returns filed are joint or single, therefore the simple answer is:
If the returns were a single filing by the husband the wife bears no liability; if the return(s) were filed jointly she should speak with a qualified attorney about the matter and no one else, in particular any representative of the IRS or state tax division.
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