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My Wife Keeps Making Surprise Income and Not Telling Me

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

In December of 2012, my wife was laid off from her job. As a result, I sought, and by the grace of God, obtained a new job that paid a lot more. When we filed our 2013 taxes, she failed to inform me of “other” income that she had received, including unemployment income and 401K money.

2 years later, we got a bill from the IRS: 15K. Fast forward to 2014, she failed to share additional income to me again which resulted in a $3500 bill from the IRS. We owe the IRS a total of $20,000 plus penalties and interest. We owe $113k for student loans (I obtained my MBA recently), and $6k for payday loans

Should we file chapter 13 bankruptcy in order to organize this debt? I know that we will have to pay this back, but their payment plans (IRS and Student Loan folks) are very excessive.



Dear Felton,


But the primary issue here is how the two of you are so in the dark over your finances. Never a good thing.

If she is going to be that closed on her financial affairs, you might want to consider filing separate but married so you don’t have to be on the hook for her bad choices.

I’m shocked your wife appears to be getting income, and draining retirement funds and you have not had at least a high-level discussion about your family finances. That is not good.

I don’t know if your student loans are federal or private so go to this post for information on how to deal with them.

When it comes to the IRS debt, you could easily enter an installment plan with the IRS online.

If your student loans are federal loans you could get into an income driven repayment program.

But the biggest problem here, by far, is not the debt but the lack of communication between the two of you. I have zero confidence that even if you did get on a plan with the IRS that there would be no more financial surprises.

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It’s time for the two of you to sit down and have a talk about how you can manage your family finances using the MBA skills you’ve just earned.


You are not alone. I'm here to help. There is no need to suffer in silence. We can get through this. Tomorrow can be better than today. Don't give up.

About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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