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Who qualifies for Innocent Spouse Relief?

October 31, 2013

Under Innocent Spouse Relief, taxpayers can get relief from the entire tax liability if they fulfill all eligibility criteria. Only married taxpayers that have filed jointly can achieve a resolution under the Innocent Spouse Relief. When filing jointly, both taxpayers are equally responsible for the information provided in the return. When taxes are owed, both the spouses are responsible for paying it back. Under Innocent Spouse Relief, a spouse can claim “innocence” for the underpayment of taxes to get relief from paying it.

Spouses that file joint returns can apply for Innocent Spouse Relief if they had no knowledge of the underpayment of taxes. Even if a married couple filed joint returns that led to tax debt, and later divorced, Innocent Spouse Relief can be achieved by the “innocent” spouse. If a divorce decree states that all previously filed joint returns are the responsibility of a former spouse, the IRS will uphold it.

Even if one spouse earned all the income, and the married couple filed joint returns, the “innocent” spouse can apply for Innocent Spouse Relief. Improper deductions or credits, inaccurate income figures, or failure to report income that led to tax debt are all included under Innocent Spouse Relief.

Taxpayers that wish to apply for Innocent Spouse Relief must fulfill these eligibility criteria:

  • You filed a joint return that has an understatement of tax that is solely because of your spouse’s intentional or unintentional error(s).
  • When you signed the joint return, you had no reason to know that there was an understatement of tax.
  • Taking into account all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax because it was not your mistake.

The IRS has now relaxed many of the qualifying factors, including the two-year time limit for filing for Innocent Spouse Relief after the date the IRS initiated collection action. Qualifying for Innocent Spouse Relief is now much easier, but taxpayers must know about the entire procedure of the relief program so that they have a smooth and successful resolution. This IRS resource will help taxpayers to get more relevant information on Innocent Spouse Relief.

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