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Tag Archive for Innocent Spouse Relief

Filing A Joint Tax Return When A Partner Has Back Taxes

Venar Ayar

Getting married means that you will share your life with your spouse in a lot of ways including your finances. With that being said, it is not uncommon to find spouses that did not talk about their finances before saying ‘I do’. This may bring about some unprecedented problems such as finding out that your partner owes back taxes. In most cases, you will still be liable for these back taxes too even if they were incurred before your marriage and you currently file joint returns. While this may seem unfair, the IRS has instituted a couple of options and tax reliefs to help spouses deal with their partner’s tax reliefs. Here are some of the options and tax reliefs that you can claim if your partner owes the IRS back taxes. But first.

Do You Know Where The Tax Debt Is Coming From?

Tax arrears and debt are not romantic things that spouses want to discuss, especially before marriage. However, it is imperative for marriage partners to understand each other’s financial situation. Is the debt from late child support payments? Is your spouse late in making student debt payment? Regardless of the reason or whether you are responsible for your spouse’s debt, the IRS views the joint return as a fair game. This means that once each of you signs a joint return, you are both responsible for any tax, interest or even penalty incurred by the other spouse. What can you do when you realize that your spouse owes the IRS when you file joint tax returns?

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Innocent Spouse: Are You Being Pursued For Taxes You Know Nothing About?

Venar Ayar- Innocent Spouse

A significant number of couples choose to file joint taxes to mainly take advantage of the higher standard deductions and other benefits that married couples enjoy. However, most of these couples do not understand the legal ramifications that come with the joint-filing status. The government, for example, is allowed to come after either spouse in the event that there is a debt or wrongdoing by the other partner. If you are facing such a problem, this is where innocent spouse relief can help you. Having this problem in the midst of a divorce can make it even more complex since divorces are mostly traumatic.

All you need to know about innocent spouse relief

While it is possible for an innocent spouse to get some relief, this can only be possible under the right circumstances. First, this relief is only available for income taxes since employment taxes are excluded. Second, the relief can only be invoked by spouses that filed a joint income tax return. Those that filed returns on the basis of married filing separate are not entitled to the relief since everyone in such an arrangement is responsible for their taxes. Third, the IRS and even the courts are likely to disregard any tax liability that a couple may have set out in their divorce proceedings. Finally, it is also important to check with the laws from your state to ensure that you can get relief from both the IRS and your state.

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The Flood That Didn’t Materialize When The IRS Removed The Two-Year Period For Requesting Equitable Innocent Spouse Relief And Granted Relief More Frequently

Innocent spouse relief, which has been available under IRC § 6015 since 1998 (and was available prior to that, in a more limited way, under IRC § 6015(e)), provides three avenues of relief. Section 6015(b) provides “traditional” relief for deficiencies.

Section 6015(c) also provides relief for deficiencies for certain spouses who are divorced, separated, widowed, or not living together, by allocating the liability between the spouses. Section 6015(f) provides “equitable” relief from both deficiencies and underpayments, but only applies if a taxpayer is not eligible for relief under IRC § 6015(b) or (c).

As I reported in my 2001 Annual Report to Congress, the IRS received 46,619 claims for innocent spouse relief in fiscal year (FY) 1999 (i.e., from October 1, 1998, to September 30, 1999). The IRS received 54,402 claims for relief in FY 2000.

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When To Request A Collection Due Process Hearing

What is A Collection Due Process Hearing?

A collection due process (CDP) hearing gives you one last chance to avoid a federal tax lien or tax levy. You will know you have a right to request a CDP hearing because you will receive a CDP notice. This notice is sent when any of the following IRS collection actions are being taken:

  • Filing of a Federal tax lien
  • Bank account levy
  • Jeopardy Levy
  • Levy on Your State Tax Refund

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The Case Of The Secret Divorce And The Not So Innocent Spouse


What do a weekend trip to Mexico, a sneaky spouse, and a tax protest letter have in common?


They are all components of a taxpayer’s losing plea for tax relief in front of the California State Board of Equalization.*


Charles and Vickie Sine filed a joint California resident tax return (Form 540) for tax year 2005.  It subsequently came to the attention of the Franchise Tax Board that they had Read more

Innocent Spouse Relief

Many married taxpayers choose to file a joint tax return because of the benefits to be derived from this filing status. On a joint return, both taxpayers are jointly and individually responsible for the tax and any interest or penalty due on the return, even if they later divorce. This is true even if a divorce decree should state that your former spouse will be solely responsible for any amounts due on previously filed joint returns.

The situation can exist, then, where one spouse could be held responsible for all the tax due, even if all the income was earned by the other spouse. In cases like this, the IRS, in the interest of equity may allow a spouse in such a situation to be relieved of tax, interest, and penalties that are due on the joint tax return. Read more

Who Is Liable To Pay Back Taxes When Filing Jointly?

“I didn’t do it! She did!” you say, as you sit in my office explaining the current, messy state of your financial affairs. Let’s say your wife failed to report her income from running a daycare facility out of your home, and since she handles your taxes, you had no idea. Now you’re separated, on the road to divorce, the IRS is calling you more often than your mother, and you need to know your options.

When married taxpayers file jointly, the letter of the law states that both taxpayers are “jointly and severally liable” for the tax, and “any additions to tax, interest, or penalties that arise as a result of the joint return even if they later divorce.”(IRS) That “severally” means that each spouse is entirely responsible for the whole sum of taxes, interest and penalties. So, even if one spouse earned all the income, the other spouse is just as Read more