IRS spouse relief (Innocent Spouse and Injured Spouse) is the process of submitting forms for the reallocation or alleviation of funds so one spouse doesn’t have to pay for the other spouse’s tax debts, interest, and penalties.
What is Innocent Spouse and Injured Spouse?
These are two terms that describe what and how a spouse will pay back taxes, debts, interest, and penalties to the IRS. When couples marry and file jointly, they have a responsibility to pay back what each other owe. These are the two categories to consider:
You may send a request (Form 8857) to the IRS to have the debts of your spouse (or former spouse) relieved if your spouse improperly reported items or omitted items on your tax return. If approved, the IRS will “split the transcript” and you will no longer be responsible for paying tax, interest, and penalties. In some instances, the IRS can issue partial relief and reduce your portion of the liability.
In most cases, innocent spouse relief is limited to those who are no longer married.
An injured spouse is someone whose tax refund is used to cover the past-due debts of a spouse or ex-spouse.
The injured spouse (the one who is jointly filed to the person who has to pay money back) can file a Form 8379 to get back their share of the joint refund when the joint overpayment is applied to a past-due obligation of the other spouse.
Injured spouse relief applies to people who are married. If Form 8379 is approved, an allocation is made as if you and your spouse each filed a separate tax return instead of a joint tax return.
Submitting a Form 8857 (Request for Innocent Spouse Relief) to the IRS
If one spouse believes that their current or former spouse should be held responsible for all or part of the taxes, they file a Form 8857 to request relief from tax liability, plus related penalties and interest.
It could take up to 6 months for the request to be approved or denied. By law, the IRS must contact the non-requesting spouse. If denied, you will have the opportunity to appeal.
Submitting a Form 8379 (Injured Spouse Allocation) request to the IRS
The IRS recommends allowing 14 weeks for Form 8379 to process. You’ll receive a letter either accepting or denying you for the relief. If denied, the IRS will give you 30 days to appeal the decision.
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