Innocent Spouse Relief

innocent spouse reliefIf you have a tax debt due to unreported income or improper deductions reported by your spouse, you may be eligible for Innocent Spouse Relief.
When filing a joint return, both spouses are jointly and separately responsible for any tax liability. Divorce will not nullify a joint tax liability and divorce decrees that state that only one spouse is responsible for a tax liability are not legally recognized by the IRS. However, if a tax liability arises because your spouse omits income, improperly reports income or reports improper deductions, unbeknownst to you, you may be eligible to file a claim for Innocent Spouse Relief.

There are three forms of Innocent Spouse Relief for tax liabilities existing on, or after July 22, 1998.

  • General Relief  – available to all joint filers
  • Separate Liability Relief  – available to joint filers who are no longer married, or are legally separated
  • Deficiency Allocation Relief  – available to taxpayers who do not qualify for either of the other two types of relief

One of the key factors in determining whether a spouse qualifies for Innocent Spouse Relief is knowledge of the understatement. The requesting spouse must be unaware of the improperly reported income. However, if the requesting spouse is aware of income received by the non-requesting spouse and not reported on the tax return, but does not know the source of the income, the requesting spouse is still eligible to file for Innocent Spouse Relief.


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