Innocent Spouse Relief – What Is It And How Do You Qualify For It?


Marriage is built on trust. But there may be some mistakes or misunderstanding during the course of time. Keeping this in mind, IRS has enacted innocent spouse relief to rectify financial mistakes of married couples.

What is innocent spouse relief?

It is an IRS tax debt relief scheme to help you avoid paying, interest, additional penalties and tax if your spouse made errors, underestimated your actual tax liabilities, or incorrectly claimed tax deductions while filing taxes.

Spouses who choose to file jointly after marriage are both jointly and severally liable. This means that the spouses are responsible for any tax liabilities together, but can be held responsible for them as individuals. For an innocent spouse relief letter example, the IRS will notify you that your spouse or former spouse requested for an innocent spouse relief by sending you a notice through Letter 3284.

The actual knowledge and reason to know tests are carried to determine that you are an innocent spouse and can be granted relief.

How do you qualify for innocent spouse relief?

You must meet following qualifying criteria for IRS innocent spouse relief to be granted.

  1. You need to file taxes jointly.
  2. The mistake has to be made by your partner.
  3. You need to prove your blamelessness. You must show that when you signed the joint return documents, you did not know or had no reason to know about the error.
  4. You must request relief no later than two years after the IRS attempted for initial collection.

If your innocent spouse relief is rejected, you may have two other options –

·        Separation of legal responsibility relief –

The IRS separates the tax bill between you and your spouse so that each has to pay individual tax shares only. You have to be divorced, legally separated or widowed to qualify for this relief.

·        Equitable relief –

This type of relief may apply if you do not qualify for innocent separation of liability or spouse relief.

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