Request A Case Evaluation Or Tax Resolution Development Plan

innocent spouse relief

What is Innocent Spouse Relief and How Can You Claim It?

Although more couples these days are choosing to customize and personalize their wedding vows and break with the traditional “to honor and obey” language, it’s a safe bet that not even IRS agents who tie the knot promise not to burden their betrothed with an unfair tax liability.

However, that is indeed the financial problem — and sometimes nightmare — that many spouses find themselves struggling with, which is why the IRS offers “innocent spouse relief.”

What is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent spouse relief is a tax relief method available to spouses who filed jointly, but due to errors made by their husband or wife, face an unfair and essentially illegitimate tax burden (illegitimate in the sense that they don’t technically owe it, but are nevertheless on the hook because of the filing mistake).

Qualifying for Innocent Spouse Relief 

Taxpayers may qualify for innocent spouse relief if they meet all of the following requirements:

  • The petition is made within two years after the IRS first attempts to collect on the amount owed.
  • The petitioner’s spouse (or ex-spouse) made mistake(s), causing the petitioner to understate their tax obligation.
  • The mistake(s) is related to a joint tax return — not an individual tax return.
  • The petitioner can prove that they did not know about the mistake(s), or had no reason to know about it.
  • The IRS ultimately determines that it would be unfair to make the petitioner liable for the mistake(s) and resulting tax obligation.

Provided that all of the above boxes are checked, the taxpayer who seeks innocent spouse relief is like to have their petition approved. However, as noted above, any relief granted will only apply to taxes that should not be owed due to mistake(s). All legitimate taxes are still owed and must be paid.

How to File for Innocent Spouse Relief

Taxpayers who wish to file for innocent spouse relief must complete and submit Form 8857 (the same form can be used to cover multiple years, if applicable). Keep in mind that filling out this form properly is not an easy task, because the IRS asks for a significant amount of personal and financial information (all of which must be properly dated and backed with appropriate paperwork).

There is also a section that focuses on whether a taxpayer was involved in making financial decisions and preparing tax returns. This is a difficult and confusing question for most people to answer, because in the real world things are not black-and-white.

For example, a taxpayer may have most (or perhaps all) control over buying groceries for the home, which represents a financial decision-making authority valued at $20,000 a year. But that same spouse may have no input whatsoever as to the representations their spouse makes to the IRS regarding business-use-of-home and vehicle deductions that are also worth $20,000.

Naturally, a taxpayer must never knowingly lie or misrepresent facts to the IRS — that is actually the worst thing they can do. But with this being said, how does one interpret the above (and very common) scenario? Does this taxpayer play a major financial role in their family’s finances? With respect to grocery shopping, yes. But with respect to business deductions made on the joint tax return, no. And yet, the taxpayer must make an honest and accurate representation on Form 8857, or else their petition could be denied — and they may even face deeper scrutiny of current and previous years’ returns.

Learning More

If you are considering petition the IRS for innocent spouse relief, or you have been encouraged to do so by family members, friends, colleagues and so on, then contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey B. Kahn, P.C. today. All communication is protected by attorney-client privilege, and we have three decades of experience making sure that taxpayers are treated fairly by the IRS.

For more information on what to do if you are being investigated by the IRS, download our FREE eBook:

    Request A Case Evaluation Or Tax Resolution Development Plan

    Get a Tax Resolution Development Plan from us first before you attempt to deal with the IRS. There are several options for you to meet or connect with Board Certified Tax Attorney Jeffrey B. Kahn. Jeff will review your situation and go over your options and best strategy to resolve your tax problems. This is more than a mere consultation. You will get the strategy or plan to move forward to resolve your tax problems! Jeff’s office can set up a date and time that is convenient for you. By the end of your Tax Resolution Development Plan Session, if you desire to hire us to implement the strategy or plan, Jeff would quote you our fees and apply in full the session fee paid for the Tax Resolution Development Plan Session.

    Types Of Initial Sessions:

    Most Popular GoToMeeting Virtual Tax Development Resolution Plan Session
    Maximum Duration: 60 minutes - Session
    Fee: $375.00 (Credited if hired*)
    Requires a computer, laptop, tablet or mobile device compatible with GoToMeeting. Please allow up to a 10-minute window following the appointment time for us to start the meeting. How secure is GoToMeeting? Your sessions are completely private and secure. All of GoToMeetings solutions feature end-to-end Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) encryption. No unencrypted information is ever stored on our system.

    Face Time or Standard Telephone Tax Development Resolution Plan Session
    Maximum Duration: 60 minutes - Session
    Fee: $350.00 (Credited if hired*)
    Face Time requires an Apple device. Please allow up to a 10-minute window following the appointment time for us to get in contact with you. If you are located outside the U.S. please call us at the appointed time.

    Standard Fee Face-To-Face Tax Development Resolution Plan Session
    Maximum Duration: 60 minutes - Session
    Fee: $600.00 (Credited if hired*)
    Session is held at any of our offices or any other location you designate such as your financial adviser’s office or your accountant’s office, your place of business or your residence.

    Jeff’s office can take your credit card information to charge the session fee which secures your session.

    * The session fee is non-refundable and any allotted duration of time unused is not refunded; however, the full session fee will be applied as a credit toward future service if you choose to engage our firm.