Innocent spouse relief
  • January 4, 2017
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Married couples who decide to jointly file a tax return can reap certain tax benefits in the form of tax breaks and credits. When you file jointly, however, you are jointly and severally liable for tax debts and any additions to it, such as interest or penalties, which may arise later from the joint return. Both spouses who file a joint tax return are liable for an equal amount of tax return, even if they divorce in the future or only one spouse earned all the income or claimed improper credits or deductions. What is important to note is that there are ways for a spouse to get relief from joint and several liability. Let’s see how.

Innocent Spouse Relief

A spouse can get relief from joint and several liability in three ways, and the first one is through innocent spouse relief. The provision enables qualified applicants to get exempted for any penalties, back taxes, and criminal prosecution they may have to bear due to their spouse’s fraud.

What Qualifies You for Innocent Spouse Relief?

There are several conditions you must meet to qualify for the innocent spouse relief, which include:

  • Your spouse reported erroneous financial information on the tax return form, such as false or no income, incorrect credits, and deductions
  • You must prove to the IRS that you had no information on your spouse’s fraudulent activities. If you had access to the bank information your joint bank account, the IRS may not consider you innocent
  • You prove, with the help of facts and circumstances, that it would be unjust to hold you responsible for any understatement of tax

Note: The IRS doesn’t allow innocent spouse relief for your spouse’s loan or credit card obligations.

Separation of Liability Relief

This provision allows tax holders to equally divide any additional tax responsibilities. For instance, if your spouse inaccurately reported an item on the joint return, due to which you are required to bear additional tax, you can use the separation of liability relief to allocate this additional tax.

What Qualifies You for Separation of Liability Relief?

  • You must be divorced from the spouse with whom you filed the joint tax return
  • You are widowed, or
  • You haven’t been living with your spouse with whom you filed the joint return for the past the 12 months

Equitable Relief

The Equitable Relief is the last opportunity that the IRS provides to innocent spouses to get relief from any taxes for which they should not be held liable. It is the final form of relief under the innocent spouse rule.

What Qualifies You for Equitable Relief?

  • You failed to qualify for either the innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief
  • You must not have filed the tax return with the intent of committing fraud
  • Your spouse/ex-spouse did not transfer any property to avoid their tax liabilities

Takeaway

The innocent spouse relief and separation of liability relief are provisions that can help innocent spouses to get relief from penalties or additional tax, which they may be liable for due to their spouse’s illegal activities. If you don’t’ qualify for these provisions, you can apply for the equitable relief, for which you must prove that in light of all facts and circumstances the IRS should not hold you guilty of any tax frauds. Nick Nemeth can provide you with detailed information on how to navigate in seeking spousal relief and help get a favorable determination. Call us at (972) 426-2553 or fill out our contact form to schedule a free no-obligation appointment.

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Carla AtwalCarla Atwal
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Miguel AlvaradoMiguel Alvarado
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Lucy FoyLucy Foy
06:55 19 Jan 24
My first appointment I had with, Tax Attorney Nick Nemeth, gave me such a sense of relief. He listened and gave me his professional advice, Mr Nemeth took my case. I was well kept updated, by phone calls and letters. That really impressed me and gave me so much confidence in them. The case went on for a couple of months. The day I received the call from one of his team members Kyle, informing me that the case was resolved and that I owed absolutely nothing to the IRS, I was overwhelmed with joy. I would recommend this law firm to anyone that needs help, with any tax issue. Thank you, to the Law Firm of Attorney Nick Nemeth and his team.
Bradley RunyonBradley Runyon
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I received a tax bill in the mail from the IRS last year in 2023. The fees and penalties I owed were something I myself could not afford. I reached out to Nick Nemeth's firm and received the best experience you could imagine. The team was professional, educational, and fast. If you have a tax issue with the IRS using another firm other than Nick Nemeth's would be an error in judgment. I would recommend their services above others.
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R GR G
20:53 21 Dec 23
I had an incompetent tax preparer, who also ignored several notices from the IRS, which in the end resulted in a lien on my property. I did not know what to do and an attorney friend recommended that I contact the Nick Nemeth Law Offices. I met with Jamie Flores and Ivan Nalbantov in December 2021 for a free consultation, and right away was impressed by their thorough examination of my paperwork and extensive knowledge of IRS tax laws. I felt not pressured and appreciated their advice and in the end decided that I would pursue resolving the issue by myself. I paid the IRS Civil Penalty and, as recommended also submitted a letter to the IRS requesting a refund and explaining what happened. I am glad to report that my persistence finally paid off. My case took two years to resolve and I finally received a full abatement/refund check from the IRS in December 2023. I could not have done this without the straightforward recommendation of Jamie and Ivan; and I highly recommend the Nick Nemeth Law Offices to anyone needing help with the IRS.
Susan WilsonSusan Wilson
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I have been very pleased with the solid counsel and guidance that Nick Nemeth has provided me regarding my tax issue. I found him to be honest and straightforward which I appreciated. I was impressed with his relevant experience and knowledge . He has definitely brought me peace of mind during a difficult and stressful time.
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I would like to thank Mr. Nick and his staff for the superb help that I received from them. My IRS problem was resolved quickly and efficiently. It took 2 visits to convince me that I was over my head. I thought that I could call the IRS, appeal my tax notices and settle on a payment plan on my own. After many phone calls to the IRS, waiting sometimes more than 4 hours with no resolution to speak of, it proved to be extremely difficult and stressful. Revisiting Mr. Nick was a huge wake up call. My account was reviewed, and a payment plan was established with the IRS within a week. I will be forever grateful to the staff who worked on my case and especially to Lorna who listened to me vent while going through this painful process.
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