Innocent spouse relief
  • January 4, 2017
  • admin
  • 0

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


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.

Please follow and like us:

What Our Clients Have to Say

Susan WilsonSusan Wilson
03:27 25 Jan 23
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.
Sarah HowardSarah Howard
03:44 14 Nov 22
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.
00:33 07 Aug 22
I cannot say enough good things about Nick and his team. When I first met with Nick he was up front, honest, friendly and efficient. When I worked with one of his attorneys, Eric B, I was just as pleased. All of the staff there are nice and very helpful. I wish I hadn't waited so long to get help with my issue. Over 6yrs I tried getting through and getting anywhere with the IRS and hardly made any progress. I know this may not be the case for all, and even I thought it would take longer than it did, but 3mos and they had my situation straightened out. I still can't believe it. Thank you thank you THANK YOU for all that you did for me. This is a huge burden gone out of my life now thanks to you. If anyone needs help out there, I know you may not want to shell out more money to get their help but it may just save you in the long run.
Spoilly GirlSpoilly Girl
23:49 03 Aug 22
The Nemeth Law team is exceptional. They treat their clients like a family member who is in crisis. They want you to get the best possible outcome. I really appreciate everything that they did for me. Jake and Ashley had the greatest role in my case and it all turned out for the best for me. Thank you Nick and team for easing my fears and getting me through the long process. I'm truly grateful.
Eddie WaltEddie Walt
19:44 12 Jul 22
During a time in which competent, professional service at a fair price seems to have disappeared, Mr. Nemeth and his team are a refreshing breath of fresh air.From my first phone call to the final settlement of our case with a non-responsive IRS, they under-promised, over-delivered and were in constant courteous contact to make sure we knew exactly what was happening and where we stood.I hope to never need their services again, but, should I receive another friendly letter from the IRS...I know who to call!
Quick Inquiry


    Enter the text you see above