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Tax Blog

IRS Innocent Spouse Relief

Posted by Kamyar Mehdiyoun, Esq. | May 27, 2023

In order to take advantage of tax savings, married couples usually file joint tax returns. Usually, the joint tax return is prepared by either the husband or the wife and the other spouse just signs the tax return. Sometimes, the spouse who prepared the joint return, intentionally hides important financial facts from the other spouse and as a result the joint tax return understates the couple's income or is otherwise inaccurate. Because each spouse signs the joint tax return, husband and wife are both responsible for any taxes owed on the joint return. Occasionally, years later and usually when the couple has already divorced, the spouse who was not involved in the preparation of the joint tax return learns from the IRS that he or she owes taxes relating to the joint return.

The Internal Revenue Code (Tax Code) contains a provision known as the “innocent spouse” rule which provides relief to the spouse who was not involved in the preparation of the joint return and who did not know about the tax irregularity. Proving to the IRS that you qualify for the innocent spouse relief is no easy matter. The Tax Code provides for specific conditions that must be satisfied before the IRS can provide relief under the “innocent spouse” rule.

Who is an Innocent Spouse and What is Innocent Spouse Relief?

An innocent spouse is someone who has filed a joint tax return with their spouse but was unaware of any fraudulent or misleading information on the return. Innocent Spouse Relief is a legal provision that allows an innocent spouse to claim relief from penalties and interest associated with the erroneous tax return filed by their partner. It helps protect taxpayers from being held responsible for their spouses' wrongdoings. Eligibility for Innocent Spouse Relief depends on various factors, such as the type of error committed by the non-innocent spouse, knowledge of errors at the time of filing, and financial hardship resulting from paying taxes owed. 

Understanding Innocent Spouse Relief Requirements in Maryland

An innocent spouse, as defined by the IRS, is someone who was unaware of their spouse's tax mistakes or fraud. To determine this innocence, the IRS will look at a variety of factors including how involved the individual was in managing finances and if they received any benefit from their spouse's actions. If deemed innocent, there are three types of relief that can be pursued: Innocent Spouse Relief for unpaid taxes; Separation of Liability Relief for those no longer married or legally separated; and Equitable Relief for those who don't qualify under the other two categories but still deserve relief.

Why You Need an Innocent Spouse Relief Lawyer in Maryland

If you are facing a tax issue with the IRS and need help navigating through innocent spouse relief issues, it is crucial to seek legal advice from an experienced IRS tax attorney. Our Georgetown-trained tax attorney has over 20 years of experience and has successfully represented numerous innocent spouse cases before the IRS. Schedule a free consultation here

About the Author

Kamyar Mehdiyoun, Esq.

Kamyar Mehdiyoun, holds a Master of Law (LL.M.) degree in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center and focuses his practice on tax law. In 2003, he received the Award for Excellence in Tax Practice and Procedure from Georgetown. He also holds a Certificate in Employee Be...

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