Joint filers are jointly and severally liable for all income tax, related penalties, and interest, including later determined deficiencies, subject to innocent spouse relief. Spouses are relieved from liability if they can establish that: 1) they did not know (and had no reason to know) of the tax deficiency; or 2) taking all facts and circumstances into account, it is inequitable to hold the unknowing spouse liable for the deficiency.
Tax Tip – Factors that weigh in favor of the spouse requesting relief include whether they have been deserted or the victim of abuse by the non-requesting spouse, the requesting spouse’s deteriorating mental or physical state of health, and their limited degree of benefit from the unpaid taxes.
The IRS also recognizes Injured Spouses, where one files a joint tax return and all or part of their portion of a tax overpayment was, or is expected to be, applied (offset) to your spouse’s legally enforceable past-due federal or state tax debt, child or spousal support, or federal student loan.
Tax Tip – In contrast to innocent spouse relief, which seeks a request from joint tax liablility on Form 8857, Injured Spouses should use form 8379 to seek their share of a joint tax refund earmarked for offset.