Innocent Spouse Relief: Relief by Separation of Liability Requirements

Innocent spouse relief is a provision that is offered by the IRS in order to help certain spouses that should not be liable for a tax bill. In order to get this type of relief, you are going to have to meet certain requirements. Here are the basics of innocent spouse relief and how to qualify for relief by separation of liability.

What Is Innocent Spouse Relief?

In some situations, an individual should not be held liable for tax liabilities that were incurred by their spouse. This makes a lot of sense and the IRS understand this concept. They believe that if you did not help incur a tax liability, you should not have to pay for it just because you were married to the individual that did. Innocent spouse relief allows the spouse that did not create this tax liability to get out of paying for the tax bill.

Separation of Liability

There are a few different defenses that you can use in order to get innocent spouse relief. One method that you can utilize is known as separation of liability. With separation of liability, you are going to attempt to have the tax bill divided into two different portions. Your spouse is going to have to pay one part of the taxes and you are going to be responsible for the other part. If you have a spouse that was in charge of creating the majority of this tax liability, it can be very helpful to utilize this approach. Instead of having to equally split the tax bill, you will be able to take a smaller portion that you were responsible for.

Unknown Issues

In order to qualify for this type of relief, your spouse has to be guilty of doing something that you were unaware of. For example, if they had additional income and they did not report it, you might be able to qualify for innocent spouse relief. If your spouse falsified documents or misrepresented anything else on your tax return, you could be eligible for this type of protection.


If you think that you might be eligible for innocent spouse relief through separation of liability, you are going to need to meet certain requirements. One way that you could qualify for this release is if you are separated from your spouse or you are no longer married to them. Another way that you might be able to qualify is if you were not a member of the same household as the individual that filed the tax return. In order to qualify under this provision, you have to have been out of the household for the last 12 months consecutively.

Under these rules, you would also be able to qualify if your spouse died after filing a tax return and you were unaware of what was on it. Being a widow or a widower count as being separated from your spouse.

blog comments powered by Disqus