Innocent Spouse Tax Relief


At Morgan Sebastian Law, our experienced tax attorney has an in-depth understanding of state and federal tax relief services, such as innocent spouse relief. When you may feel deceived or let down by your former spouse, a skilled tax professional can help you find a way out of burdensome tax liabilities stemming from a joint filing. Leave all of the stress from tax debt behind by partnering with a seasoned tax professional. Schedule a free 30-minute consultation with an experienced tax debt attorney at Morgan Sebastian Law today by calling (877) 223-6605.

What Are My Tax Relief Options for Unpaid Taxes I Know Nothing About? 

If the IRS or state tax authority is pursuing you for payment on taxes owed from a year when you were married, you may feel like you have no options other than to pay. Divorced or widowed spouses are often surprised in these situations, as they knew nothing about this outstanding tax debt from their joint tax filing. Fortunately, depending on the case, they may be eligible for relief.


The IRS has acknowledged that it would be unreasonable to pursue taxpayers who were kept in the dark about unpaid taxes under certain circumstances. Innocent spouse relief can potentially halt these collection pursuits for one of the parties to a shared tax debt. Prompted by the filing of IRS Form 8857, it requests that a taxpayer be exempt from all or a portion of a tax obligation initiated with a joint tax return with a former or current spouse. 

Who Qualifies for Innocent Spouse Relief?

If you have been notified that you must pay your spouse’s tax debt due to filing a joint income tax return, do not hesitate to speak with an experienced tax attorney who understands the intricacies of federal and state tax laws. At Morgan Sebastian Law, our seasoned tax lawyer can help you understand and file for the IRS innocent spouse tax relief exception if you’re eligible.


To qualify for innocent spouse relief, you must meet the following requirements:


  • You filed a joint tax return while you were married

  • Your former or current spouse erroneously reported income on a joint return

  • You can prove that when you signed the joint tax return, you didn’t know or had no reason to believe that your spouse erroneously reported the income

  • Taking all facts into consideration, it would be unjust to hold you accountable for the outstanding taxes

  • You must apply for the innocent spouse relief within two years from the date the IRS imposed a penalty against you

What Does the IRS Consider Unfair for Innocent Spouse Relief?

To evaluate whether it would be unjust to hold you accountable for unpaid taxes, the IRS will consider matters such as: 


  • Whether you received a significant benefit of the erroneously stated income

  • Whether your spouse deserted you

  • Whether you are currently separated or divorced

  • Whether you received added benefits on your tax return 


After filing Form 8857, the IRS will investigate the actual amount you are liable for, if any. It’s important to note that you can research the amount you think should be owed and provide different figures for the IRS to consider. Your tax attorney can be an invaluable resource with this step in particular. 

Other Types of Innocent Spouse Relief

If you do not qualify for the Innocent Spouse relief, there may still be other options for relief available to you. There are two different types of tax relief offered to married individuals, including:


  • Separation of liability relief: This type of relief authorizes you to divide the tax debt, including interest and penalties, from your joint return between you and your current or former spouse.

  • Equitable relief: This type of relief exempts you from responsibility for tax, interest, and penalties when you are ineligible for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief.


Form 8857 must still be filed with the IRS for both of these tax relief options, and both involve distinct eligibility requirements. To learn more about these tax relief options, reach out to our experienced tax attorney at Morgan Sebastian Law.

Retain an Experienced Tax Attorney for Help with Innocent Spouse Relief 

The options for innocent spouse relief are complex, with multiple unique moving elements. Remember that while there is no deadline to file for equitable relief, you have just two years to file after the first collection notification for innocent spouse relief or separation of liability relief. Don’t wait to consult with an experienced tax attorney who can help you navigate this challenging time.

Lead counsel Becky Rose Sebastian at Morgan Sebastian Law, PC, is highly experienced in providing tax relief assistance for numerous federal and state tax requirements. She can assist you with filing Form 8857, along with assessing the financial aspects of your situation. Even if you are denied tax relief, she can help you appeal the decision. To speak with Becky about your innocent spouse relief options, call (877) 223-6605 to schedule a free consultation or complete our contact form.

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