In most circumstances, married taxpayers are required to file a joint tax return because of the many advantages for doing so. However, joint filing means both taxpayers are equally liable for the taxes due, along with any interest or penalties that may arise later. This liability remains even if the couple later files for divorce. In situations where one of the spouses earned all or the majority of the income, the other spouse may require tax assistance. If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s how you can obtain innocent spouse relief through the IRS.

Relief Classifications and Requirements

You can potentially receive three primary types of tax liability relief:

Innocent Spouse Relief

Innocent spouse relief absolves you of liability for any additional taxes you may owe if your spouse or former spouse failed to report income, reported income inaccurately, or claimed incorrect deductions.

To qualify for innocent spouse relief, you must:

  • Have filed a joint return with an understatement of tax that’s solely your spouse’s error
  • Establish that at the time of signing your joint return, you were ignorant of the error

Fortunately, the IRS accounts for the context, facts, and your circumstances to decide whether it would be unfair to hold you liable for any erroneous understatements.

Separation of Liability Relief

If you’re legally separated from your spouse, you can obtain separation of liability relief that provides a separate allocation for any additional taxes owed because of misreporting. Once the issue is settled, you are liable for the amount allocated to you. To qualify, you must meet one of these three requirements:

  • You’re legally separated or divorced from the spouse with whom you filed the joint tax return
  • You’re widowed
  • You haven’t been a member of the same household as your former spouse at any time during the 12 months ending on the date you request relief

Equitable Relief

If you’re unable to qualify for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief, you still may be able to qualify for equitable relief. To do so, you must:

  • Be ineligible for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief
  • Have filed a joint return for the tax year or years in question
  • Have filed a claim for relief in due time
  • Not have transferred assets between you and your spouse as part of a fraudulent scheme
  • Not have knowingly participated in filing a fraudulent joint return
  • Show the tax liability from which you’re seeking relief is your spouse’s fault

If you meet these conditions, the IRS may grant relief if you’re able to prove that it would be unfair to hold you liable for any understated or unpaid taxes.

GJR Consulting Is Here to Help

If you find yourself with a tax liability that’s the fault of your spouse or former spouse, GJR Consulting is here to help you navigate your options and minimize your burden. Contact our team today and we’ll start exploring your options so you can get on with your life sooner than you thought possible.