Overview of IRS Spousal Tax Relief

For any married couple, filing and paying taxes on an annual basis continues to be a necessity and responsibility. In many cases, it will make sense for the spouses to file a joint tax return. Along with a joint tax filing, it can provide you with tax credits, expanded tax brackets, and allow you to qualify for various tax deductions.

While filing taxes jointly could reduce your total tax liability on a combined basis, there are risks associated with filing jointly as well. One of these risks is that both parties on the tax return will be responsible for taxes owed and will sign off stating that the forms were filled out correctly. If a mistake was made, both parties could face various forms of penalization including tax liens, fees and fines, and additional punishments. While you could face some penalization, there is a chance that one spouse could receive relief through the IRS spousal tax relief provisions.

How to Qualify for Spousal Tax Relief

The spousal tax relief program is designed to help provide relief to a spouse that has been penalized due to tax errors or negligence of another party.  If you qualify for this relief, it could relieve you of liability associated with inaccurate or negligent tax payment. There are various ways that you can qualify for this relief.

Spouse Made Error on Tax Return

While you will both need to sign the federal tax returns upon submission, it is more likely than not that the taxes were prepared largely by just one individual. If your spouse made a willful or negligent error in the taxes that resulted in penalization, you could claim relief if you were not involved in the preparation of the documents.

Tax Debt is Not Your Responsibility

Another factor to consider when applying for spousal tax relief is if the tax debt is not your responsibility. If your spouse knowingly made financial decisions that led to a serious tax burden, and you did not benefit from the decision, you could qualify for this relief. It could be challenging to prove a lack of benefit if you continue to share all assets with your spouse, but if you do not share most assets, you could qualify.

Marriage Status

Overall, the status of your relationship can have an impact on your qualification for spousal relief. If you are recently divorced, legally separated, or one spouse has left the other, you could have a strong case to state that the tax mistake should not be a responsibility of both spouses.

If you are deemed qualified for support under the spousal tax relief provision, any liens or levies on your personal assets should be relieved. However, you still may be jointly responsible for any past-due taxes and liens and levies that could remain on the assets you share with your spouse. Due to this, obtaining additional support and relief could be helpful. This can include relief through the IRS Fresh Start Program that will allow you to enter into a tax repayment program in order to remain in good standing with the IRS.

Show More