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URL:  http://boards.fool.com/cfayedwhen-a-person-forges-the-signature-of-25325608.aspx

Subject:  Re: Forged signature Date:  3/25/2007  12:39 AM
Author:  Wradical Number:  93286 of 121585

(cfayed:)When a person forges the signature of his/her spouse and files a joint return (including the spouse's w2) without the other's knowledge, what are the consequences? It was discovered when the person tried to file his own return and the IRS rejected it because the ssn had already been used. I know he can mail his return and wait until the IRS sorts it out but are there any other ramifications to filing a fraudulent return?
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Interesting situation. I gather from the description:
>The first/joint return was e-filed (or else the IRS wouldn't have been able to match up and reject the (second) attempt at a separate return at this early date;
>The attempt to file a separate return was also an electronic submission, for the same reason.

Forgery is easier to prove with a manual signature. In this brave new world of e-filing and self-selected PIN numbers, forgery is a matter for the criminal lawyers, but it will come down to "He said, she said", between spouses, in what sounds like a troubled marriage, if they aren't in fact already separated. I'd be amazed if anyone is prosecuted in a case like this.

If they are separated, are they planning a divorce? Does the "innocent" spouse here have an attorney? If so, he should consult him/her.

What would he be trying to accomplish at this point? To get the (forger) spouse arrested? Don't hold your breath on that one. Tax prosecutions take forever, involve multiple steps of bureaucratic review in the Treasury and Justice Departments, and only the slam-dunk "pure tax" cases go to criminal court.

["Pure tax" criminal cases are those tax-related crimes that don't involve other crimes, like drugs or embezzlement, political corruption, or other organized crime situations.]

The IRS, and Justice Dept., too, don't want to prosecute taxpayers and lose. Besides, they still have very painful civil penalties they can impose, which don't bring the publicity.

A big question - how accurate is the tax return that was filed?

You indicate that the (innocent)spouse's W-2 was included. What about other income/deductions? If the return as filed is accurate, maybe this isn't a big deal at all.

Or is this a fight about who gets the refund, for whose withholding?
Again, that may just be a matter for the lawyers to sort out, assuming there are lawyers involved, or soon will be.

Bill
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