Innocent Spouse Rule – From Ask

What Is the Innocent Spouse Rule?

Innocent Spouse Rule

In we will talk about the Innocent Spouse Rule Sometimes the best way to deal with a difficult question is by giving yourself some time to ponder and reflect on it. This innocent spouse rule is just that kind of question you should be rubbing your chin about. The innocent spouse rule can be thought of as a tax law that lets people escape sticky situations, for example, if someone married got hitched without knowing their partner wasn’t being honest about how much they make. Even if you’re not living in the USA, this law may very well apply to similar situations so let’s think about it together.

Understanding the Innocent-Spouse Rule

There is a law in the US that can help innocent taxpayers who have been negatively affected by their spouse’s wrongdoing on their tax returns. The rule usually helps resolve any misunderstandings about the income claimed and due, as well as tax deductions. Taxpayers can meet these criteria:

Improperly filing tax documents in a way that directly affects your spouse is not only putting yourself at risk for potential ramifications, but also you’re risking possible tax relief for your spouse, to whom you are supposed to have been providing financial support. Even if the error was made by a tax preparer, it’s likely that if the IRS discovers the error, they will require that your spouse pay back taxes and interest related to the incorrect filing procedure- which could be thousands of dollars in addition to what you would already owe because of your portion of it.

To claim a taxpayer’s relief under the separate election liability rule, a person needs to fill out IRS form 8857. One has applied for this kind of relief if they’ve previously filed a joint tax return with their spouse and are now divorced or widowed. This particular type of relief functions almost identically to the innocent spouse rule, but there are some slight differences – for example, the court may conclude that one is obliged for taxes owed even if they didn’t know about any errors made by their ex-spouse.

Read more: Injured spouse relief – Form 8379

Not knowing the circumstances of forgiving an innocent spouse

One of the requirements of innocent spouse relief is that the taxpayer did not know or reason to know that there was an error on their return. Some court rulings have held ‘innocent’ spouses to a higher standard than what is explicitly stated by the IRS. For example, if the return had their signature but they were unaware of any of the information contained in it, then perhaps there were errors present yet still no evidence that they were given every opportunity to review and understand said errors properly.

On the other hand, other judges rule that there must be documented or verified proof that a spouse was familiarized with all child taxes and all taxes related topics before being eligible for ‘innocent’ spouse relief, otherwise, it can be assumed that they should have known better proactively because they are educated individuals who nowadays would most likely review said deductions in detail after checking over their final tax forms before submitting them.

Joint Return

A joint return is an ideal option for couples who are married and plan to reap the rewards of filing taxes as a single entity. Many books on starting up businesses discuss the benefits of merging business finances, particularly when it comes to things like travel expenses or business insurance policies. If you run a company, consider taking part in these discussions and learning how to best take advantage of tax shelters on either your income or other personal assets, so that you can increase your profits.

Who Is Eligible to File a Joint Return

To file a joint tax return, the taxpayers must legally be married before the end of the year and both must agree to share finances on their taxes. The taxpayers can file as qualifying widow/er (QW) provided that at least one spouse has died in either of the two prior tax years and that they are maintaining a household for a dependent child. Nonresident aliens cannot file as married filing jointly if either spouse was a nonresident alien during any point in the year.

Read more: Interest Only Mortgage

Benefits of a Joint Return

Taxpayers with spouses who earn the same amount of income or just one spouse who earns most of the income would greatly benefit from filing both jointly. Taxpayers with medical expenses and casualty losses can likely keep their taxes lower by filing together as opposed to together. At times when married couples experience an adjustment or correction in their income, this will set them up for significant savings by filing separately as opposed to an increase in what they’d pay if they were scheduled to file jointly (IRS).


Congress continues to provide extensive protections for innocent spouses. The IRS knows how rampant it is for marriages to end in divorce, making life quite difficult for the individuals involved who are unable to fight over assets and funds after the fact. So to rectify this, the IRS has sought out legal ways in which they can ensure these individuals won’t be robbed of their just chunk of their former spouse’s assets post-divorce.

Innocent spouses should never see any portion of their share cut due to a divorce, so it’s important that those needlessly worried about being targeted by the tax collection agency know their rights!

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