Innocent Spouse Rule
(Important Info to Not be Hindered By Your Spouse’s Tax Debts)
The vast majority of married couples file their federal taxes jointly. The joint filing of taxes is actually encouraged by the tax by providing certain benefits and advantages to joint filers, as opposed to a married couple that opts to file separately. However, a potential drawback to filing taxes jointly is that you are at risk of becoming liable for tax debt associated with that return, even if you relied on your spouse to complete and file the return.
If you received a notice from the IRS about an outstanding tax debt, do not give up hope. An IRS tax relief attorney can potentially help remove your liability for taxes and penalties for which you reasonably believe only your spouse, or ex-spouse, should be responsible for.
You can potentially remove your liability through the “innocent spouse rule.”
Innocent Spouse Rule
To prevail in your Innocent Spouse defense will hinge primarily on your ability to establish the following:
- You had no knowledge of any understated income
- You had no reason to be aware of an incorrect tax claim
- You did not receive any benefit from the wrongful tax actions of your spouse
In order to assert the Innocent Spouse defense, you will need to file Form 8857 (i.e. a Request for Innocent Spouse Relief). This single form can be used, even if the IRS has reason to believe your spouse filed incorrect tax returns over multiple years.
When To File Form 8857
You should not delay in submitting Form 8857. In fact, it is strongly recommended that you file this form as soon as you learn of the tax liability for which you believe only your spouse, or ex-spouse, should be responsible for. Nevertheless, at the very latest, you need to complete and file Form 8857 within two years after the first attempt by the IRS to collect any outstanding taxes.
Community Property Exception
If you are pursuing relief through the Innocent Spouse rule that is predicated on community property laws, be cognizant of the fact that you need to file Form 8857 within six months prior to the expiration of the period of limitations on an assessment (including extensions) against your spouse, or ex-spouse, for the tax year for which you are pursuing relief. For context, the “period of limitations on assessment” is the amount of time the IRS has from the date the tax return was filed to pursue an assessment. Typically, the period of limitations on assessment is three years.
However, if the IRS initiates an examination of your return during this six month period, you need to file your request for relief within 30 days after the date of the initial contact letter provided by the IRS.
Have Questions? Speak to an Experienced IRS Tax Relief Lawyer Today
If you are concerned about a tax notice from the IRS, do not throw your hands up in despair. You likely have options to contest the tax assessment, especially if your spouse, or ex-spouse, was responsible for completing and filing the tax return. To learn more about your legal options, contact the highly reputable Anderson Bradshaw Tax Consulting today. Our tax attorneys and professionals possess more than three decades of experience handling complex tax disputes. You will have the confidence and peace of mind in knowing your difficulties with the IRS can be resolved and corrected quickly and efficiently.