Innocent spouse tax relief

IRS Innocent Spouse Tax Relief

Divorce or separation can cause serious tax problems for spouses. Untangling your tax liabilities from a spouse you separate from or divorce can be difficult because the IRS holds both spouses financially liable for the total tax debts of both spouses when filing jointly. Fortunately, the IRS does maintain a program to help those who have separated or divorced.

Why the need for this type of tax relief?
The IRS provides incentives for married couples to file jointly and, as such, many people choose to file jointly. But what happens if you separate and your spouse has claimed improper deductions, failed to report their income correctly or improperly filed? Unfortunately, both spouses are responsible for the total back taxes owed.

This type of relief program can help you eliminate the joint and several liability of a spouse that is “innocent” of making the aforementioned errors or omissions in their returns. If you meet certain criteria, you may obtain innocent spouse relief.

General criteria
To qualify for this type of tax relief you must claim relief within a two year time frame once the IRS initially tries to collect from you. You must have understated your total tax on your joint return and the understatement must be caused by the other spouse, not the spouse seeking relief. You must formally swear and establish that at the time this tax problem was made by your significant other that you had no knowledge of the issue and also establish that you had no reason to know of it. Lastly, the IRS must determine that holding you accountable for the payment of the delinquent tax is unfair.

If you feel you meet the criteria listed above, you may qualify to this type of tax debt relief. To apply, you’ll need to file IRS form 8857, the Request for Innocent Spouse Tax Relief.

If you would like assistance with your filing or if you are unsure if you can qualify, will provide you with a free consultation. To have an Enrolled Agent review your case, call (888) 332-8959 to set a convenient appointment.

What if I do not qualify? Are there other forms of relief?

In fact there are other ways for people to avoid paying the delinquent taxes of their significant others. Aside from the program mentioned above there are two other programs referred to as Separation of Liability Relief and Equitable relief. Each program and their respective qualification criteria are discussed in turn next.

Separation of liability relief
If your spouse or former spouse understated their tax, you can qualify to not be liable for their tax if you meet at least one of the following: (1) you must be legally divorced or legally separated from the spouse that committed the error; (2) you must be a widow or a widower; or (3) you must not have been co-habitating with the individual that committed the error in the last 12 months preceding the time you file for Separation of Liability relief. In addition, you must state and convince the IRS that at the time the error was made resulting in an understatement of tax that you had no knowledge of the event.

If you do not qualify for Innocent Spouse or Separation of Liability relief, you may qualify for Equitable Relief.

Equitable relief.
If you cannot qualify for the other two forms of relief than equitable relief may apply to you. You must convince the IRS that it is unfair for you to be held responsible for the understated and/or the unpaid tax. This relief program does not have clearly defined criteria such as the other two forms of relief granted to spouses that do not cause an understatement of tax.

An important note.
It may seem that the three programs discussed on this page are all very similar. While the verbiage on the IRS website dedicated to explaining these programs details them all on one page, to the average observer, they all seem the same. This is very far from the truth. In fact, the IRS provides a disclosure regarding these three programs indicating that you should never confuse an injured spouse claim from one of joint and several liability. Moreover, those who live in community property states you may still qualify for relief.

How to get help.

If you believe your spouse or former spouse has caused you significant tax problems that you are not responsible for, it would be wise to speak to an agent of the IRS, to a knowledgeable tax professional like an Enrolled Agent or tax attorney or both.

For a free consultation to determine if you may qualify for any type of spousal tax relief cal at (888) 332.8959 to schedule a convenient appointment time.

Before you schedule an appointment, you may want to review some important information supplied by the IRS that has helped us create this page. You can review the pages, forms and links about spousal tax relief by following the links below:

Seven Facts about Injured Spouses:,,id=237754,00.html

How to Apply:,,id=102176,00.html

Supplemental Information:,,id=256031,00.html