A large number of married taxpayers file a joint tax return in order to reap certain benefits allowable under this filing status. It is important to remember, however, that when filing a joint return, both taxpayers are liable for the taxes owed under federal law. The IRS term is “jointly and severally liable” and it includes both spouses in the benefits or penalties arising from the joint filing status. If an erroneous joint tax return is filed, a spouse can sometimes obtain relief from responsibility from the IRS. This program is called Innocent Spouse Relief.

How Do I Qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief?

In order to qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief, several factors will be considered in the IRS evaluation process. No single factor weighs more heavily than another in this process, but some of the most common factors are listed below.

  • Spousal relationship status (current and at the time of the erroneous filing)
  • Any physical or mental disabilities borne by either spouse
  • Each spouse’s level of involvement in household finances
  • Each spouse’s education
  • Each spouse’s work experience and status

Moreover, a taxpayer who filed a joint income tax return and is seeking Innocent Spouse Relief must meet ALL of these conditions:

  1. The errors in calculating and reporting the taxes due were made by the other spouse.
  2. The spouse appealing for relief must not have known and had to reason to know that errors were present when they signed the tax return in question.
  3. The spouse appealing for relief would be unfairly affected if held liable for the tax errors.

How Can I Apply for Innocent Spouse Relief?

The IRS may have sent you a notice of errors found on your joint return or may propose an increase in the taxes you owe. As soon as you become aware of any tax liability for which you believe you should not be held responsible, you should file IRS Form 8857 to appeal for relief. This form must be filed no later than two years after the first IRS notice of attempt to collect additional taxes. Do not delay filing even if you do not have all the necessary documentation. Some exceptions apply to filing deadlines that could make any delay a costly error.

IRS Publication 971 provides instructions on how to file for Innocent Spouse Relief. If you file IRS Form 8857 to request relief from joint and several liability, the IRS is required by law to notify your spouse of your request. This allows the other spouse a fair and equal opportunity to provide information to be considered by the IRS when investigating your claim.

What if I Have Other Questions or Concerns?

Do you believe you may qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief? Reliance Tax Group has the professionals who can help you determine your eligibility and file the necessary form to apply. Our tax experts can interpret and explain your unique situation to improve the chances of your petition being granted by the IRS. Call us at 720-452-2915, email us at info@rtaxgroup.com, or fill out the contact form online. Due to the limited time allowed for filing, you should not delay another day. Contact us now.