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Will my spouse’s tax debt affect me?

Yes. If your spouse owes back taxes or other federal debts, it can affect your refund, but only if you file your return jointly. The interested agency can try to recover the debt using your tax refund if they are unable to do so using your spouse’s.

If you do not want your refund to be taken away to satisfy your spouse’s debt, you can file for Injured Spouse. This is an IRS relief program that allows spouses to get released from responsibility to pay a debt entirely owed by their spouse. You can file for Injured Spouse Allocation by completing Form 8379.

Even if your refund has been taken due to your spouse’s debt, you may be able to retrieve it by filing for Injured Spouse relief. The following must be accurate to recover your refund:

  • You filed a joint tax return with your spouse.
  • The return had a refund due, all or a part of which was applied to satisfy your spouse’s debt.
  • You reported income (from any source) on the tax return.
  • Your spouse owes the entire debt.
  • You made estimated tax payments or had your income withheld for paying taxes, and/or you claimed the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) or other refundable tax credits on the joint return you filed with your spouse.

You can file Form 8379 Injured Spouse Allocation with your tax return. If you are filing for Injured Spouse relief with your return, it may delay your refund; the IRS will need time to review your return and process your request for relief. It might take up to 14 weeks for your refund to reach you.

If you have already filed your return, you may then file the form separately. The IRS takes around eight weeks to process Form 8379.

If you have any inquiries about your tax refund, you may contact the Treasury’s Financial Management Services Department (FMS) at 1-800-304-3107.