Most married taxpayers file using the Married Filing Joint filing status. This makes sense in most cases since it typically results in the lowest combined tax for the taxpayers. However, one impact of filing Married Filing Jointly, is that by default, each spouse is jointly and severally liable for the taxes due on a joint return, regardless of who earned the income, and the IRS can collect from both spouses.
This is usually fair and equitable as joint filers, but what happens if one spouse was unknowingly the victim of fraud or misstatement on a tax return? Is the “Innocent” spouse responsible for the additional tax burden? As mentioned above, by default they are, but if they qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief, they may be able to get relief from all or part of the IRS debt. Innocent Spouse Relief is a common issue that we assist taxpayers with who come into our Richardson TX Office.
Who Qualifies for Innocent Spouse Relief?
Two important questions related to whether a taxpayer qualifies are -
Was there a valid return? If either individual did not intend to file a joint return or if it was illegal to file a joint return, it is not a valid return. What would constitute a valid return
- Did the “Innocent Spouse” consent to file a joint return? Did they approve it in writing or verbally?
- Was the couple legally married?
- Was there tacit approval? This is where the spouse did not give written or verbal approval, but where the spouse would or should have been aware, that a joint return was being filed. Do they file a joint return each year? Would the spouse have had a filing requirement if not married?
- Was the return signed under duress?
- Was the signature forged?
- Was the “Innocent Spouse” aware or should they have been aware of the misstatements?
Types of Innocent Spouse Relief
IRC 6015 Creates 3 types of innocent spouse relief. We will cover each in greater detail in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!
- 6015(B) – Innocent Spouse Relief
- 6015(C) – Separation of Liability
- 6015(F) – Equitable Relief
How To File For Innocent Spouse Relief
Innocent Spouse Relief is requested with IRS Form 8857, "Request for Innocent Spouse Relief". If filing under Section 6015(b) or 6015(c), the form must be filed within two years after the IRS begins collection activity. When filing, you should be prepared to support your case. If you believe you qualify and the request is rejected, appeal the decision.
Do You Need Help?
Do you believe that you may qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief or have an IRS Collection issue that you need help with? If so, we’d be happy to talk with you. Please give me a call at (972) 821-1991 or email me at bob@jablonskyandassociates.