IRS Innocent Spouse Relief

reviewed by Drew O. Mark
March 6, 2018

Dealing with the IRS as an Innocent or Injured Spouse

Marriage often entails sharing responsibilities, including financial ones. However, when it comes to taxes, joint filing can sometimes lead to unintended complications, especially if one spouse is unaware of or innocent in matters of tax misreporting or debt. To address such situations, the IRS offers Innocent Spouse Relief—a program designed to protect innocent spouses from the consequences of their partner’s tax errors. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the significance of IRS Innocent Spouse Relief and why seeking the assistance of a tax professional is crucial when navigating this complex process.

Understanding IRS Innocent Spouse Relief

IRS Innocent Spouse Relief is a valuable program that can provide relief to spouses who find themselves liable for tax issues caused by their partner. It can protect innocent spouses from being held responsible for tax underreporting, incorrect deductions, or other errors made by their spouse during joint tax filing.

There are three types of Innocent Spouse Relief:

  • Traditional Innocent Spouse Relief: This type is for spouses who believe that they shouldn’t be held responsible for tax issues caused by their partner. To qualify, certain conditions must be met, such as proving that you didn’t know about the tax issue or that it would be unfair to hold you responsible.
  • Separation of Liability: This relief option allocates the tax liability between both spouses based on their individual income and deductions. It allows the innocent spouse to separate their tax liability from the spouse responsible for the tax debt.
  • Equitable Relief: If you don’t qualify for the first two types of relief, equitable relief may be an option. It’s available when it would be unfair to hold the innocent spouse responsible for the tax debt. Equitable relief considers factors like emotional or physical abuse, financial control, or a lack of knowledge regarding the tax issue.

Evaluate your tax situation

By evaluating your tax situation, you can identify areas where you may be able to reduce you tax burden and make informed decisions about your financial future.

The Importance of Using a Tax Professional

Navigating the IRS Innocent Spouse Relief process can be complex, and making errors or failing to provide sufficient documentation can lead to your request being denied. Here are compelling reasons why you should consider using a tax professional:

  • Expertise in Tax Law: Tax professionals, such as certified public accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents, and tax attorneys, possess in-depth knowledge of tax laws and regulations. They understand the intricacies of the IRS Innocent Spouse Relief program and can provide expert guidance.
  • Understanding Eligibility: Determining your eligibility for Innocent Spouse Relief requires a thorough analysis of your financial situation and the circumstances surrounding your joint tax return. Tax professionals can assess your case accurately and advise you on which type of relief is most appropriate for your situation.
  • Documentation and Evidence: Successful Innocent Spouse Relief claims require comprehensive documentation and evidence to support your case. Tax professionals can help you gather and present the necessary paperwork, ensuring that your application is complete and persuasive.
  • Negotiation with the IRS: Tax professionals can communicate with the IRS on your behalf, handling any inquiries or negotiations that may arise during the application process. They can effectively represent your interests and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.
  • Increased Chance of Approval: By working with a tax professional, you are more likely to submit a well-prepared application that meets all the requirements and criteria for Innocent Spouse Relief. This significantly enhances your chances of getting relief.
  • Peace of Mind: Dealing with tax issues can be stressful and emotionally challenging. Having a tax professional by your side can provide peace of mind, knowing that you have an advocate who is dedicated to protecting your rights and interests.

The Application Process for Innocent Spouse Relief

To apply for Innocent Spouse Relief, you’ll need to complete IRS Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief. Here are the general steps involved:

  • Complete Form 8857: Fill out the form accurately, providing all necessary information about your tax return, your spouse’s involvement, and the reasons you are seeking relief.
  • Gather Documentation: Collect all relevant documentation, such as tax returns, financial records, and any evidence that supports your claim for relief.
  • Submit Your Request: Mail your completed Form 8857 and supporting documents to the IRS address provided in the instructions.
  • Await IRS Review: The IRS will review your application and may contact you or your tax professional for additional information or clarification.
  • Final Determination: After reviewing your case, the IRS will make a determination regarding your eligibility for Innocent Spouse Relief. This process may take several months.
  • Appeal if Necessary: If your request is denied, you have the right to appeal the decision within 30 days of receiving the denial letter.

IRS Innocent Spouse Relief

IRS Innocent Spouse Relief is a crucial program that can protect innocent spouses from being unfairly held responsible for their partner’s tax errors. However, the application process can be intricate and daunting, making the guidance of a tax professional invaluable. By enlisting the expertise of a tax professional, you can navigate the complexities of the program, increase your chances of approval, and gain the peace of mind you deserve in resolving your tax issues.

Remember, addressing tax problems promptly is essential to avoid escalating issues and potential legal consequences. Don’t hesitate to seek the help of a tax professional to navigate the IRS Innocent Spouse Relief program and secure your financial future.


Clinton F Wassor

Clinton F. Wasser, holding a Master of Science in Legal Studies of Taxation, brings a wealth of expertise in tax planning and compliance to his writing. With a career rooted in the workings of the tax landscape, Clinton navigates difficulties with finesse. Beyond his professional accomplishments, he generously volunteers his time to educate high school students about the nuances of taxes. As an author, Clinton marries his real-world experience with a passion for simplifying tax concepts. He has found that his technique empowers readers to better understand the world of taxation.
Read more