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Types Of Innocent Spouse Relief

There are three types of relief from joint and several liability for spouses who filed joint returns:

Innocent Spouse Relief Under §6015(b)

This relief is available for understatements. This relief is dependent upon what you did or did not know at the time the return was signed. To obtain relief from your joint tax liability you must show the following:

  • You did not know or had no reason to know of the error causing the understatement.
  • The error is solely attributable to your spouse or ex-spouse.
  • You must also show, considering all the facts and circumstances, that it would be inequitable to hold you liable for the deficiency.

Innocent spouse relief, if granted, would relieve you of any responsibility for paying the tax, interest and penalties. This type of relief can be very difficult to prove, simply because it is often hard to prove that you did not know and had no reason to know of the error and that it is solely attributable to your spouse or ex-spouse. Innocent spouse relief is available for any tax deficiency resulting from your spouse's or former spouse's failure to report income or if he or she reported income improperly or claimed improper deductions or credits.

Separation Of Liability Relief Under §6015(c)

This relief is available for understatements and is based on your marital status. In order to qualify for separation of liability relief, you must meet one of the following statuses:

  • You are no longer married to the spouse with whom you filed the disputed return or:
  • Are widowed, legally separated or living apart from that individual for the 12 months prior to the date your request is filed.

Under §6015(c) separation of liability relief, the tax deficiency is allocated in the same way as if you had filed a separate return, which severs your liability from your spouse's.

If you qualify for separation of liability relief, the IRS allows you to pay for the portion of taxes that you are responsible for and then seeks payment from the culpable spouse for his or her understated taxes, interest and penalties.

To qualify for the allocation, there must have been erroneous item(s) giving rise to an understatement on the joint return and you must be either divorced or separated for at least one year. The tax allocated to you is the amount for which you are responsible, had you initially filed separately.

Equitable Relief Under §6015(f)

This relief may be an option if you are not eligible for relief under the first two provisions — Innocent Spouse Relief or separation of liability relief. In other words, Section 6015(f) provides for "equitable relief" from understatements and underpayments when relief is not available under subsections (b) or (c). An understatement is income that was not reported or was underreported due to a reporting error and generally attributable to your spouse.

You may also qualify for equitable relief if the correct amount of tax was reported on your joint return, but the tax remains unpaid. Equitable relief is based on the grounds that it would be inequitable, when taking into account the following factors:

  • Your marital status
  • Economic hardship
  • Previous compliance with income tax laws
  • Level of knowledge and benefit
  • Safety and/or any possible abuse occurring at the time of the filing

In determining whether you qualify for equitable relief, the IRS will take into account all circumstances surrounding the dispute.

Learn More About Innocent Spouse Relief

Are you unsure where to start? While this may be your first dispute with the IRS, our experienced tax attorneys have been working with taxpayers just like you for more than two decades. We can help you evaluate your qualifications under each of the three grounds for relief.

Contact Bucci Law online or call 954-900-9107. We handle cases worldwide. Call our lawyers today. Bucci Law Offices will be your tax advocate and fight for your innocent spouse protection. We represent taxpayers throughout Florida and worldwide.