The IRS provides taxpayers with very few options for complete debt forgiveness. One of these options is something called Innocent Spouse Relief, which can be enormously helpful for those who have a partner who got them into tax debt without their knowledge or consent. Are you wondering if you may qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief? In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about Innocent Spouse Relief, including what Innocent Spouse Relief is, how you can qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief, how to file for Innocent Spouse Relief, how Innocent Spouse Relief affects back child support, and whether or not your partner will know if you file for Innocent Spouse Relief.

What is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent Spouse Relief is commonly thought to be a debt relief program, but it’s actually a status granted by the IRS. However, this status does automatically come with full relief and forgiveness of back taxes owed on joint filings by a spouse who incurred tax debt without your knowledge.

How Do You Qualify for Innocent Spouse Relief?

To qualify, you’ll need to prove that tax debt incurred by your partner was done without your knowledge or consent. Additionally, you’ll need to show that your spouse did one or more of the following four things without your knowledge or consent: failed to report income, underreported income, claimed deductions that did not apply, or claimed credits that did not apply.

It can be challenging to prove that you did not know something. But it is possible and many people are able to gain this relief status each year. Even if you signed a fraudulent return, you may be able to prove that you weren’t aware that its contents were incorrect.

If you need help proving that you did not know about a fraudulent or incorrect return, or need help figuring out if you qualify, contact Tax Defense Partners today for a free consultation on your unique situation.

How to File

If you qualify, you can have a tax professional file for you or file yourself.

If you’d like to file it yourself, the form you’ll need to submit is IRS Form 8857 Request for Innocent Spouse Relief. After filing, the IRS will investigate whether or not you knew about filing issues that caused your joint tax debt. If they find that you did not, you will be granted this relief and your tax debt will be fully forgiven. In terms of timeline, know that it can take up to six months for the IRS to process the request.

Back Child Support Issues

It’s a common misconception that back child support issues, such as your entire joint refund being applied to back taxes your spouse owes you, can be solved with Innocent Spouse Relief. Generally, these types of issues are not related to Innocent Spouse Relief and you should review other options (such as IRS Injured Spouse) for pursuing a resolution to these types of issues.

Will My Ex-Spouse Know I Filed for Innocent Spouse Relief?

Unfortunately, the IRS must always notify your partner if you file for relief, so they will know about the filing. And many people are concerned about their partner’s reaction to their filing for Innocent Spouse Relief.

Filing can be a tricky situation, especially because it’s something that is usually requested by those who have separated from their partner. If you’re concerned about how your partner will react to this type of filing, you do have other options to consider, such as an Offer-in-Compromise Doubt as to Liability.

If your current or former partner has gotten you into tax debt and you’d like to discuss all your options for debt relief, contact Tax Defense Partners for a free consultation today. During your consultation, our licensed CPAs and tax attorneys can advise you of your options and can help you determine the best course of action for your unique situation.