Call for a Free Consultation about protecting an Innocent Spouse at no cost or obligation.
How does the Innocent Spouse Rule apply?
When you file a joint tax return, the law makes both spouses responsible for tax liability. This is called joint and several liability. However, there are three types of relief for filers of joint returns:Innocent Spouse Relief, Separation of Liability Relief and Equitable Relief.
Each type has different requirements and is briefly explained below. Call Fresh Start Tax and we can help guide you through this technical process.
What is Joint and Several Liability?
Joint and Several Liability applies to the tax liability shown on your joint tax return. It also includes any additional tax liability the IRS determines to be due, even if the additional tax is due to the income, deductions or credits of your spouse or former spouse. You remain Jointly and Severally Liable for the taxes, and the IRS can collect from you. Even if you divorce later and the divorce decree states that your former spouse will be solely responsible for the tax.
Can I qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief?
To qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief you must meet all the following requirements:
You must have filed a joint return that has an understated tax;
The understated tax must be due to erroneous items of your spouse (or former spouse);
You must establish that at the time you signed the joint return, you did not know and had no reason to know there was an understated tax;
With all the facts and circumstances known, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understated tax;
You must request relief within 2 years after the date the IRS first began collection activity against you;
Call your Fresh Start Tax Professional at to find out if you qualify.
What are Erroneous Items?
Erroneous Items are any items that are incorrectly stated on your tax return, and any income item that is not properly reported.
What is Understated Tax?
Understated Tax is when the IRS determines that your total tax liability should be more than the actual amount shown on your tax return.
Can I qualify for Separation of Liability Relief?
Under the Separation of Liability Relief, you allocate the understated tax, plus interest and penalties, on your joint return between you and your spouse. The understated tax allocated to you is generally the amount you are responsible for. To qualify for Separation of Liability Relief, you must have filed a joint return and meet either of the following requirements on the date you file Form 8857:
You are no longer married to, or are legally separated from, the spouse with whom you filed the joint return that you are requesting relief for.
You were not a member of the same household as the spouse with whom you filed the joint return at any time during the twelve month period ending on the date you file Form 8857.
Can I qualify for Equitable Relief?
Equitable Relief is only available if you meet all of the following conditions:
You do not qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief, Separation of Liability, or relief from Liability arising from community property laws.
You have an understated or underpaid tax.
You did not pay the tax.
The IRS determines that it is unfair to hold you liable for the understated or underpaid tax taking into account all the facts and circumstances.
You and your spouse (or former spouse) did not transfer assets to one another as a part of a fraudulent scheme.
Your spouse (or former spouse) did not transfer assets to you for the main purpose of avoiding tax or the payment of tax.
You did not file or fail to file your return with the intent to commit fraud.
The income tax liability for which you seek relief is attributable to your spouse (or former spouse) with whom you filed a joint return.
Call for a Free Consultation about protecting an Innocent Spouse.
How do I request relief?
File Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, to ask the IRS for relief. Form 8857 should be filed no later than two years after the date on which the IRS first began collection activities against you.
What is Injured Spouse Relief?
Injured Spouse Relief is different from Innocent Spouse Relief. When a joint return is filed and the refund is used to pay a spouse’s past due federal tax or other items, i.e. child support, the other spouse may be considered an injured spouse. the injured spouse can get back his or her share of the joint overpayment using Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation. You are considered an injured spouse if:
You are not legally obligated to pay the past due amount.
You meet any of the following conditions:
You made and reported tax payments.
You had earned income and claimed the earned income credit or the additional child tax credit.
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Frank Andreacchi, Ed Vecchio and Scott Szaro are no longer with the company and are pictured on our site.
*Mr. Sullivan has been in private practice since 1982 in South Florida which gave roots to Fresh Start Tax LLC. The firm began as Sullivan & Powell PA and through the years transitioned to its now current form.