Innocent Spouse

Many married taxpayers choose to file a joint tax return because of certain benefits this filing status allows. Sometimes one spouse just quickly skims over the taxes and does not study them or one spouse will file and not let the other spouse know what was going on in with the tax or the tax obligation.  Both taxpayers are jointly and individually responsible so both spouses will be held liable for what was on the tax forms and what taxes are owed even if they later divorce. This is true even if a divorce decree states that a former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns. One spouse may be held responsible for all the tax due even if all the income was earned by the other spouse. The IRS just wants to get paid and they don’t care what spouse pays it.

Sometimes it is possible for one spouse to get out of this tax obligation through this program called the innocent spouse relief.

Filing an innocent spouse claim is difficult and time consuming, especially in a community property state. Here are the criteria to determine if you will qualify:

  1. The taxes owed belong to your ex-spouse (perhaps from self-employment activities and you were not working at the time or from assets held in that spouse’s name)
  2. You are no longer married to that spouse
  3. You thought that spouse would pay the taxes due at the time
  4. If there was an audit of the tax return, you did not know about the items changed in the audit that resulted in the understatement of the tax liability
  5. You would suffer a financial hardship if you were required to pay the tax. You would not be able to pay for basic living expenses like food, shelter, and clothing
  6. You did not significantly benefit (above normal support) from the unpaid taxes
  7. You suffered abuse during your marriage

If you need help finding out if you qualify for relief under the innocent spouse please give us a call.