Dear Monetary,

My husband cheated on me, moved out of our house and moved in with his girlfriend in October 2019. He has stopped paying all the bills and is paying almost no child support. He filed for a divorce, but because we can’t finish paying the lawyers, our divorce is on hold.

The Internal Revenue Service has deposited all the stimulus money into his account, and they will not share it with me. I finally started working last October, and that most recent stimulus check came back to him! Why haven’t I received mine?

We have a minor child, and he also took his share.

Still married,

Dear Married,

You may not have received a check because you did not file a tax return.

It is not 100% clear in your letter if you have a formal separation agreement. The IRS has clear instructions on reporting people who falsely declare dependents. There are exceptions to the rules, but a child must live with the qualifying parent for more than half of the calendar year.

Your ex-husband should be careful because you haven’t been living together for more than a year. “When you knowingly claim a bogus tax dependent, you risk penalties and a potential IRS audit,” according to CommunityTax.com.

Given the unclear legal status of your marriage, you can use IRS policy as leverage when talking to your husband. You can also follow the IRS Instructions on reporting false allegations about dependents, if that’s what happened here.

The government uses the IRS database to determine people’s eligibility for stimulus payments. These are refund credits recoverable on your 2020 return. The IRS uses 2019 tax returns to assess people’s income; The 2018 tax returns are used as plan B.

This is not the first such letter I receive during the pandemic about spouses stealing stimulus payments. And it won’t be the last. Yours may be less clear than some of the other cases, but I wouldn’t give up on receiving your due in 2021 just yet.

The Argentist: I filed for bankruptcy after rehabilitating my husband’s house. Now he wants an open marriage and says I don’t own anything. I feel trapped and bamboozled

Previous letters included financial abuse: This husband effectively took his wife’s economic stimulus payment, a classic case of financial abuse where the abuser controls all finances to maintain power over her spouse in the relationship.

In another such case, this ex-wife forged her husband’s signature on an IRS tax form (classic old-fashioned fraud case) and which could be liable to a custodial sentence, if it could be proven that she acted with it malice and / or with criminal intent.

In The Moneyist Archives’ skulduggery treble, this ex-wife drawn from her ex-husband’s bank account and used her stimulus payment herself (a classic case of sharp practice, given that she had every right to withdraw money from a joint account) .

Your case highlights the importance of filing a tax return with the IRS and keeping track of bank accounts. You can note your husband’s refusal to hand it over in future divorce proceedings. A judge is unlikely to look sympathetically at such stingy stimulus shenanigans.

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