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Will I be held responsible for my spouse's mistake?

If your spouse (or ex-spouse) made an error on your joint tax return, the IRS may hold you partially responsible for the mistake—even if you weren’t aware of it when you signed the return. That’s why the attorneys from Okabe & Haushalter are ready to help you get innocent spouse relief. According to the IRS, innocent spouse relief allows you to be relieved of financial responsibility for paying taxes, interest, and other heavy penalties associated with the mistake.

Do you qualify for innocent spouse relief?

In order to qualify for innocent spouse relief, you must meet a variety of qualifications.

  • First, you and your spouse must have filed for a joint tax return. If you filed separately, you will not qualify as you claimed separate responsibility for your return.
  • Second, your joint tax return must contain an understatement. In other words: your spouse must have claimed a faulty deduction or failed to report a portion of your income. For example, if your spouse won $10,000 gambling and concealed it from you and the IRS, you may not be held liable for any penalties related to the error.

In order to qualify for innocent spouse relief, you must be able to demonstrate that you were unaware of the erroneous item on the return. Additionally, if you were unaware of the mistake but had reason to know, the IRS may not grant you relief. If a reasonable person in your situation would have been aware of the erroneous item, the IRS may have a hard time believing that you are actually innocent. Talk to an attorney if you need help substantiating your defense; it may be difficult to do without the help of a lawyer. Finally, the IRS will make its decision based on fairness; if the IRS determines that it would be unfair to hold you responsible for the improperly reported item, you will be granted innocent spouse relief.

Fight for Fairness in a Tax Crime Case

Every innocent spouse defense case is different; the IRS will take your individual circumstances into consideration. If you benefited substantially from any events related to the erroneous item, you may not be granted relief. For example, if your spouse won the lottery and bought you a car but didn’t tell you where the money came from, the IRS may not accept your petition for relief. Why? A reasonable person in your situation would have wondered where the money came from. The IRS will also take your educational background, business experience, and current financial circumstances into consideration. Additionally, the IRs will ask whether or not you inquired about potential error on the return. If your spouse lied to you about the presence of an erroneous item on the joint tax return, the IRS may be more sympathetic toward your petition.