Innocent Spouse Tax Relief
When married taxpayers file a joint tax return, both spouses are generally held responsible for all of the tax due even if one spouse earned all the income or claimed improper deductions or credits. This means that the IRS can collect against you as an individual and you and your spouse as a couple. This liability remains even if you later divorce and your divorce decree states that your former spouse will be responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns. In some cases, however, a spouse can get relief from joint and several liability under the innocent spouse provisions. There are three types of relief from joint and several liability for spouses who filed joint returns:
- Innocent Spouse Relief provides you relief from additional tax you owe if your spouse or former spouse failed to report income, reported income improperly or claimed improper deductions or credits.
- Separation of Liability Relief provides for the allocation of additional tax owed between you and your spouse or former spouse because an item was not reported properly on a joint return. The tax allocated to you is the amount for which you are responsible.
- Equitable Relief may apply when you do not qualify for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief for something not reported properly on a joint return. You may also qualify for equitable relief if the correct amount of tax was reported on your joint return but the tax remains unpaid.
You must request relief no later than 2 years after the date the IRS first attempted to collect the tax from you, regardless of the type of relief you are seeking.