Innocent Spouse Relief / Injured Spouse Relief

Most married taxpayers filing joint tax returns due to certain benefits not allowed under other filing statuses.  One of the major issues that results from a break in the marital union can be a tax debt from a joint return filed during the marriage, from which both spouses can be held fully liable for until the total amount of tax debt is paid in full or resolved.

There are three types of relief you can petition for to the IRS when you are a spouse owing on a joint tax return:

Innocent Spouse Relief

You are allowed to be granted innocent spouse relief only if you can prove that when you signed the return you had no knowledge of either the unreported income or the improper deductions or credits requested. The burden of proof is on the person requesting the relief to prove they were unaware of the tax debt that would arise from this unreported income item or erroneous deduction or credit. PLEASE NOTE: Innocent Spouse Relief MUST be requested no later than 2 years after the date of the initial tax debt being collected against by the IRS.

Separation of Liability Relief

This request allows you to separate an additional amount of tax debt owed between you and your former spouse or legally separated spouse. The separate allocation of the tax will determine the amount of tax debt you specifically owe. In order to qualify for Separation of Liability Relief, you must prove one of the following three factors at the time requested: (a) You’re divorced or legally separated rom the spouse with whom you file the joint return, (b) You’re widowed, OR (c) You haven’t been a member of the same household as the spouse with whom you filed the joint return at any time during the 12 month period ending on the date you requested relief.

Equitable Relief

If you do not qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief or a Separation of Liability Relief but there is an item on the jointly filed return you can attribute to your spouse, you may qualify for Equitable Relief. This is a request that is granted based on the facts and circumstances you are able to establish proving to the IRS that it would be unfair to hold you specifically liable for the tax debt.


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