Innocent Spouse Relief
The federal tax laws provide a benefit to married couples that allow a married couple to file a joint tax return. A joint tax return will report all taxable income whether earned from a spouse separately, such as, wages from an employment or jointly, like rental income from jointly owned real property. Unfortunately, there are times when one spouse is unaware, mislead, or tricked by the other spouse when it comes to reporting income, paying taxes, or other tax return issues.
The law allows the IRS to hold either spouse of a marriage filing a joint tax return liable for the total tax due for that specific tax return and year. The legal term for this concept is joint and several liability. A spouse may seek relief from the joint and several liability if he or she meets certain criteria provided for under the Internal Revenue Code § 6015 commonly referred to as Innocent Spouse Relief.
It is common for these situations to arise during a separation or divorce, but not always. Sometimes, this is not a known issue to the innocent spouse until several years later or after the fault spouse has died. A spouse is in a position of trust and many times that trust is abused in different ways like forwarding mail to a separate location, getting the mail first to filter out any IRS notices, or several other deceiving tactics.