About innocent spouse relief

Is the IRS chasing you for a tax debt incurred by your ex-spouse or even your current spouse?

When you file a joint income tax return, both you and your spouse are legally liable for the income tax reported on the tax return. This can be grossly unfair.

For example, if you are married and file jointly you may find out about a tax debt at a much later date because your spouse misrepresented their income or otherwise reported inaccurately. It can take time for the IRS assess the correct tax. But when it does, it can pursue both you and your spouse for the entirety of the debt. This is true even if you separated or divorced by the time the IRS comes looking for its money.

The law affords a remedy in these situations. If a spouse can show that they had nothing to do with the debt owed and were unaware of it at the time that the tax return was submitted, the law allows the IRS or the courts to say that the innocent spouse is not liable.

You may qualify for innocent spouse relief if:
  • Your tax return for the year in question is a joint return and you have been divorced or separated 12 months (this is not an absolute requirement, as the law affords married spouses some relief too)
  • The portion of your taxes that your spouse was clearly responsible for was grossly inaccurate on the tax return
  • There is no evidence of fraud on your part (e.g., your spouse didn’t transfer assets to you or someone else to avoid paying the taxes)
  • You can show that you did not know of the circumstances leading to the tax debt at the time the return was filed
  • It would be unfair to make you responsible for paying the total amount

Abandonment or other abuse during the marriage can also factor into this analysis, as would economic hardship.

What to expect when filing for innocent spouse relief.

When the IRS receives your request, it will review it and send you a questionnaire and a request for certain information to support your request.

You will need to be clear on why you didn’t file a separate claim tax return if you were aware of the problems with the original tax return.

The IRS has a multi-step review process for these claims. Be prepared to wait for some time before the IRS addresses the request.

You should know that the IRS will contact your spouse about your request. Your has rights and can appeal the IRS’s decision to relieve you of liability for the tax debt.

Finally, even if you were aware that the return may have contained errors at the time, you may still be able to receive partial relief, depending on your situation.

Act now to see if you qualify for innocent spouse relief.

The rules for innocent spouse relief are complex and innocent spouse relief is only one of several remedies that may be available.

Because these situations can involve a lot of paperwork and can touch on other complex legal matters, particularly in divorce cases, they require the assistance of a tax professional.

We have represented a number of clients with innocent spouse relief and other related remedies. This is what we do for a living.

We offer compassionate, individualized service at the most affordable rates. If you need help with determining whether you qualify for innocent spouse or submitting a request, call today for a free, confidential consultation. Our toll-free number is 877-219-2619.