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Was Your Spouse Or Ex-Spouse Charged With Tax Fraud? You May Be Eligible For Innocent Spouse Relief.

Does the adage "for better or worse" include tax fraud? Not if you act quickly to protect yourself.

If you believe you are innocent of errors your spouse or ex-spouse made on your jointly filed tax return, the IRS could relieve you of the debt by granting you innocent spouse relief. Proving your case can be extremely difficult, however, and unfortunately for many unsuspecting taxpayers, claims for relief are often denied.

At Bucci Law Offices, we provide clients who are facing tax issues because of joint filing with compassionate support and highly professional counsel. Call us in Fort Lauderdale at 954-900-9107 or in Miami at 305-340-2275 to speak with one of our tax lawyers. We will fight to protect your financial interests.

What Is Innocent Spouse Relief?

Innocent spouse relief is an equitable remedy in which the IRS grants relief to an innocent spouse. If the innocent spouse can prove that he or she was not responsible for the incorrect tax filings, the IRS may not hold that person responsible for the tax liabilities, including interest and penalties. Incorrect tax filings include the spouse or former spouse of the requesting spouse improperly reporting items or failing to report items on a jointly filed tax return.

There are three types of innocent spouse relief, each with its own qualification requirements and timelines. Learn more about each option.

How Do I Qualify For Innocent Spouse Relief?

To qualify for innocent spouse relief, the following conditions must be met:

  1. A joint return was filed with an understatement of tax due to erroneous items attributable to your spouse.
  2. At the time you signed the joint return, you did not know and had no reason to know that there was an understatement of tax.
  3. It would be unfair to hold you liable for the understatement of tax taking all facts and circumstances into account.
  4. There was no property transferred between spouses as part of a fraudulent scheme.

Qualifying for relief from joint and several liability depends not only on your innocence, but also on what you can prove. Equally important is not what you say, but how you say it. Let our tax attorneys advocate your position to the IRS to help avoid costly and often irreversible mistakes.

Signs You May Qualify For Innocent Spouse Relief

  • Is the IRS attempting to collect from you because you filed a joint tax return with your ex-spouse, even long after the marriage ended?
  • Do you feel ambushed, confused or unable to defend yourself because your current or former spouse — who earned all the income, then underreported — claimed improper deductions or credits or was the only one to benefit from the tax refund?
  • Did you become aware of your spouse's transgression long after it occurred?
  • Did your errant spouse conceal this information from you or fail to inform you of IRS notices?
  • Have you been a victim of abuse, such that you were reluctant to come forward?

How Can I Apply For Innocent Spouse Relief?

To apply for innocent spouse relief, you must file IRS Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, or a written statement, signed under the penalty of perjury, containing the same information required on Form 8857. You must act quickly. You have limited time to request relief.

Time is also of the essence if you are seeking a refund of tax you paid. Your request must be made within the time period for seeking a refund, which is generally three years after the date the return is filed or two years following the payment of the tax, whichever is later.

The Risks In Joint Filing

Although married couples file joint returns to save money, few are aware that — in the long run — the savings may prove far too high a price to pay when compared with the risk. The danger of filing a joint return is that you and your spouse are each jointly and individually liable for any tax, interest and penalties due — even after a divorce and regardless of whether the divorce decree states otherwise. This means that your joint tax liability will stick with you even if your marriage does not survive "until death do you part." Even worse, you could be liable for the entire amount.

Once you file a joint return, you cannot later amend to file as a married couple filing separately or as a different head of household. Filing a joint return has the effect of an irrevocable election, which can result in one spouse being held fully accountable for the entire liability, regardless of actual responsibility.

If the IRS determines that a tax return filed jointly contains a deficiency, both spouses are equally responsible for that liability, regardless of who is to blame. The culpable spouse may avoid liability if the IRS can collect only from the other spouse, the innocent spouse, even if he or she had no knowledge or understanding of the underreported income or overstated deductions.

With a general three-year statute of limitations on assessment and a 10-year statute of limitations on collections, the taxes, interest and penalties that result because of your ex-spouse's wrongdoing can haunt you long after your marriage has ended. Death and taxes truly are the only real constants in life.

How Can A Tax Attorney Help Me Qualify For Innocent Spouse Relief?

If you believe your current spouse or former spouse has understated your tax liability or not paid the tax owed with your jointly filed return, Bucci Law Offices can help. Our experienced tax attorneys will analyze your case to determine if you can file for the protections of innocent spouse relief for your IRS tax problems.

Contact our firm to schedule a consultation at our Fort Lauderdale or Miami, Florida, offices. We will discuss your needs and determine if you qualify for innocent spouse relief. We represent taxpayers worldwide.