What Is the Innocent Spouse Rule?

The innocent spouse rule is a rule that is used by the IRS in order to allow spouses that may not be at fault for a tax payment deficiency to avoid liability. When a couple files a joint tax return, both spouses in the couple will sign the tax return. This generally implies that both spouses knew what was on the return.

With the innocent spouse rule, the IRS will provide relief for individuals that claim that they did not know what was on the tax return when they signed it. This could happen for number of different reasons. For example, if a spouse can prove that they were physically separated from the one that filed a tax return, the IRS will not hold them liable for the taxes.

If the spouse that filed a tax return withheld important information from the other spouse, this could also lead the innocent spouse to be relieved of liability. If the spouse signed the tax return under good faith and did not know the conditions that would lead to a larger tax bill, they might be able to get out of paying for the taxes. You also have to apply for relief within two years of the tax return.

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