IRS Innocent Spouse Relief: How It Works and What You Can Do.

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When you file a joint tax return with your spouse, both of you are legally responsible for any taxes owed on the return.

So, what do you do when facing a mountain of tax liability that doesn’t belong to you?

One of your options is known as Innocent Spouse.

Innocent Spouse is an IRS tax resolution program available to spouses shouldering the burden of unfair tax liability.

Total Tax has over 30 years of experience helping individuals resolve these complicated issues with the IRS.

Keep reading to find out if you are eligible for Innocent Spouse relief and how to apply.

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Innocent Spouse Relief Qualifications

You must meet the following conditions to qualify for the innocent spouse tax resolution program:

  1. Joint filed tax return.
  2. Incorrect tax information was submitted by your spouse (or former spouse).
  3. Ability to prove that when you signed the joint tax return, you did not know incorrect information was submitted.
  4. IRS determines it would be unfair to hold you responsible for the unpaid taxes.

You will not qualify for innocent spouse relief if the IRS can prove that you benefited from substantial assets (such as property), were transferred to you as part of a fraudulent plan.

Innocent Spouse Relief Statute of Limitations

On July 25, 2011, the IRS made a major announcement (IR-2011-80) – they are now expanding help to more innocent spouses. 

Previously there was a two-year limit imposed on certain relief requests. The release of Notice 2011-70 removes that time restriction! 

For help with your innocent spouse claim, contact Total Tax Attorneys today at (855) 383-4561.

The IRS Must Contact Your Current or Former Spouse

Even in situations of domestic abuse or violence, the IRS is legally required to inform your spouse or former spouse that you filed Innocent Spouse Form 8857.

Unfortunately, there are no exceptions.

To protect the requesting spouse’s privacy, the IRS keeps personal information like names, addresses, phone numbers, and employer confidential.

Be sure to black out personal information that you do not want the other party to know in all support documents you file with your form.

How to Request Innocent Spouse Relief (in 4 Steps)

The process of applying for Innocent Spouse Relief can leave you feeling overwhelmed and needing clarification.

Don’t let the process of requesting relief hold you back from financial freedom!

Total Tax has many years of experience helping innocent spouses understand and navigate this complicated topic.

We’re here to help you better understand what’s involved – read below to find out how.

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How the IRS decides whether to grant innocent spouse relief.

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Applying to be an Innocent Spouse can feel daunting, but the IRS wants to ensure taxpayers are treated fairly during its review.

That's why they evaluate each situation from several angles—whether one spouse knew about unreported income not reported on a joint tax return, whether or not their marital status changed since filing that particular return, and more.

So take a breath: understanding what goes into this process is your first step towards resolution!

Actual Knowledge or Reason to Know

When considering an innocent spouse claim, the IRS will consider many factors, such as the amount and type of erroneous entry, the taxpayer’s financial situation, education level, and relevant professional experience.

And – how involved you were in creating this error, whether questions about certain omissions/entries were asked before signing off on your return, or if there has been any departure from prior recurring patterns found within past returns.

Indications of Unfairness

In certain life circumstances, such as divorce or desertion by a spouse, the responsibility to cover taxes may fall unfairly on one party. The IRS will explore these extraordinary situations.

Significant Benefit

On the other hand, if you received significant benefits like cash or property from the spouse that goes beyond normal support, the IRS may hold you responsible for the associated tax liability.

According to IRS regulations, transferring an abundance of assets to minimize individual tax burden is considered a fraudulent act.

If you are denied innocent spouse relief

There's no reason to face the IRS alone - Total Tax can help review your forms for accuracy and represent you in IRS hearings and appeals.

With our experienced team of tax attorneys, we can give you the best chance at success when it comes to negotiating with the IRS. Contact us today to get started!

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Contact us today for a free consultation. Let us help you get the tax relief you need and deserve.

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Innocent Spouse Relief Success Stories


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    "I only wish I would have contacted Total Tax years ago when my tax problems first began."

    "When I first contacted their office Becky was extremely polite and listened very carefully without being judgmental, then offered several solutions and plans of action to help resolve my problems. I only wish I would have contacted Total Tax years ago when my tax problems first began. I would recommend them to anyone who is having trouble with the IRS and who feel helpless in resolving their tax nightmare."

  • Your Tax Questions Answered

    Below are frequently asked questions about the Innocent Spouse tax resolution program.

    Don’t see your question below? Check out our FAQ page or call … to have your question answered by a team member.