Where can I get INNOCENT
Publication 971, Innocent Spouse
Relief, explains the rules to qualify What If . . .
for and claim relief from tax liability.
This publication can be downloaded You signed a joint return with your
from the Internet at: HOW TO spouse and . . .
REQUEST RELIEF You thought your spouse had paid
www.irs.gov the taxes due, or . . .
You can file Form 8857 The IRS increased your taxes
You also can order free forms and because of your spouse’ s
Request for Innocent Spouse Relief
publications from the IRS at unreported income or disallowed
800-829-3676. (One form will cover multiple years) deductions and . . .
You knew nothing about your
If you have access to TTY/TDD spouse’s unreported or erroneous
equipment, you can call 800-829- items when you signed the return.
4059 to ask tax questions or to order
forms and publications. Now the IRS is asking you to pay
the tax owed on this joint return.
The IRS Mission
What tax relief may be
Provide America’s taxpayers available to you?
top quality service by helping
them understand and meet
IRS Call the
Department of the Treasury
their tax responsibilities and Internal Revenue Service Internal Revenue Service
by applying the tax law with w w w . i r s . g o v
integrity and fairness to all. Publication 3512 (Rev. 03-2001)
Catalog Number 28669X (800) 829-1040
q If you meet the conditions for KEY POINTS
innocent spouse relief, you will EXAMPLE (Additional Tax from an
not be responsible for the tax At the time the joint return was Audit): Mark and Carol Smith filed a joint
due on the return or any return in 1996. In 1998, the IRS audited their
filed, did you believe the tax
penalties and interest. return and discovered that Carol did not
owed was, or would be, paid? report $12,500 in wages. This resulted in
additional tax of $3000, plus $675 in
q You may be eligible for partial Did your spouse’s income cause penalties and interest. Mark did not know
relief based on the facts and about Carol’s unreported wage income. Mark
the unpaid tax?
circumstances of your and Carol had separated in 1996 and Carol
situation. If the additional tax due is never told Mark about her second job. IRS
allowed Mark’s request for relief. The
because of an audit, did you
q You must file Form 8857 no additional taxes, penalties and interest due
later than 2 years after the date know about the unreported on the unreported $12,500 of wages will be
collectible from Carol only. Mark will be
the IRS first attempts to collect income or erroneous items? relieved of the additional taxes, penalties and
the tax from you. interest.
EXAMPLE (Taxes not Paid When Return
Filed): Bill and Karen Green filed a 1998
q If you prefer, the IRS will figure joint return showing $4000 in taxes owed, but In this example, the key factor
the amounts for you if we allow not paid. The tax resulted from Bill’s wages. in the determination is that Mark
relief. You can always verify this Karen did not receive any income in 1998. did not know or have reason to
amount yourself or with a tax Both Bill and Karen knew the taxes were
know of unreported wage
advisor. owed but did not know how they were going
to pay them. In 2000, Karen filed Form 8857,
Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, for the
q In order to process your claim, See if you qualify by using the
unpaid balance of $4000. IRS did not allow
you must attach a statement as Innocent Spouse Tax Relief Eligibility
Karen relief. The unpaid tax, penalties and
Explorer at: www.irs.gov /individuals/
to why you believe you qualify interest are collectible from both Bill and
for relief. Karen.
In this example, although the tax If you believe you may qualify for relief,
q Being divorced or separated resulted from Bill’s income, file Form 8857, Request for Innocent
does not automatically qualify Spouse Relief. IRS will consider all the
Karen knew the tax was not paid facts and circumstances of your case,
you for relief, but is a factor that when the return was filed and did including your knowledge and whether
IRS considers. not have a reasonable belief it you received a significant benefit, and
would be paid. determine your eligibility for relief.