Understanding Innocent Spouse Relief

Married couples get to enjoy a lot of key benefits when they file their tax return jointly, and it can even be a contributing factor as to why people decide to make their union legal in the first place. However, when one spouse decides to keep financial information from the other and misrepresents their situation when filing their taxes, needless to say, it creates a lot of problems.

If you suddenly find yourself responsible for a large tax bill that you had no knowledge or part of, you might be eligible for innocent spouse relief. Here are the basics you need to know about this program offered by the IRS:

 

  • Who qualifies for innocent spouse relief?

 

Individuals who filed a joint tax return with no knowledge of any wrongdoing can be eligible for relief. The person must prove that when they signed their return they had no knowledge of the misinformation, and therefore they shouldn’t be held liable for their tax burden.

 

  • How do I file a request so that I’m not responsible for the tax bill?

 

The IRS provides relief to those who meet the above criteria and request relief by filling out a Form 8857. This form can cover multiple years, and can be accompanied by a letter or other supporting documents explaining your situation.

 

  • When should I file?

 

In most cases, you have up to 2 years after you receive notice of your tax liability in order to file for innocent spouse relief. While the IRS recommends submitting your request as soon as you can, sometimes people choose to wait until they have more documentation before requesting relief.

 

  • How long does the process take?

 

After the IRS receives Form 8857 from you, it can take up to six months before a request is finalized. In the meantime, you should continue to file your tax returns as usual.

This information just touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to innocent spouse relief. Depending on each marital situation, there might be different factors that contribute to the filing process. Couples who are divorced or have had issues with domestic violence might find that their method of requesting relief looks slightly different.

Don’t let your spouse’s actions negatively affect your financial status; as soon as you receive notice that you have a tax liability that you knew nothing about, contact the IRS to avoid having to pay toward your spouse’s mistake.

If you would like more information about the criteria you must meet to qualify for innocent spouse relief, please see my Innocent Spouse Relief E-Book.  It is available in the Free Resources section of this Firm’s website or by Clicking Here.

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Written by Robert V. Boeshaar

Robert V. Boeshaar

Robert V. Boeshaar is a Seattle tax attorney committed to helping individuals and small businesses who are facing problems with the IRS. He believes in using his experience to serve others and to make a difference in their lives.