Monday, August 02, 2010

N.Y. Judge Calls Husband's Pre-Divorce Filing of Back Taxes 'Despicable'

According to, a New York judge recently ruled that a taxpayer’s move to file amended returns claiming over $1.5 million of extra income on the day of his divorce trial was a malicious attempt to stop his wife from recovering marital assets.

"It is well settled that expenses (including unpaid taxes) incurred prior to the commencement of a divorce action constitute marital debt which, under normal circumstances, should be equally shared by the parties. However, in those rare instances where a party's conduct in creating a debt is so egregious, shocking, fraudulent or malicious, the Court can exercise its discretion and refuse to apportion the debt," Acting Supreme Court Justice Andrew A. Crecca wrote in Maria C. v. Dominick C., 04775/08.

"Under the facts and circumstances of this case," the judge concluded, "this is one of those rare instances."

The Dix Hills couple, whose names were redacted from the decision, were married in 1987 and had four children. The husband runs a home-improvement company, the wife worked "in the secretarial field," as Justice Crecca put it, until their first child was born.

The wife, Maria C., filed for divorce in 2008 on the ground of constructive abandonment. The judge found that the couple had not cohabited as husband and wife since January 2007 and that the husband had refused "to engage in marital relations."

Shortly before the divorce went to trial in March, the defendant-husband, Dominick C., unilaterally filed marital tax returns for the years 2004 through 2007.

In the amended returns, the husband admitted earning more than $1.6 million in unreported income over those four years.

The husband filed the returns on his own initiative, as the couple was not being audited or under investigation, and without his wife's signature. He included on the cover page a list of assets the government might consider attaching, including the couple's house. The husband stated the house's value ($1.2 million), the size of the mortgage and the name of the bank that held the loan.

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