How to File for Innocent Spouse Relief

You just received the IRS's dreaded “Notice of Intent to Levy,” but there's a big problem. This isn't your IRS Tax Debt! This is your spouse or ex spouse's problem. So what can you do when the IRS has its sights set on your bank account? Innocent Spouse Relief may solve your problems.

Innocent Spouse Relief 101
: Most married couples file jointly to save money. But with the savings comes a big disadvantage. When taxpayers file jointly they are held liable for their spouse's taxes. So if your spouse underreports their income, you'll get the blame too! And if they can't pay, guess who gets the bill…you!
Where do I start?

To request Innocent Spouse Relief, file Form 8857, “Request for Innocent Spouse Relief”.

Will my ex spouse know if I Request Innocent Spouse Relief?
The IRS is required by law to inform your ex or current spouse when you file for Innocent Spouse Relief. There are no exceptions, not even for victims of spousal abuse. But don't fret, your current address, employer, new name and other personal information will not be disclosed.

What else should I include with my form?

The IRS encourages you to file Form 8857 even if you don't have any documentation. But it's a good idea to provide all of the physical evidence you possibly can, they'll increase your odds of winning. If you have bookkeeping documents, sales receipts, or anything else that proves you were unaware of your spouse's debt, include it when you mail the form.

Will I still receive my Tax Returns while my request is being processed?
As long as you don't owe the IRS, you will receive your Tax Returns.

How long will it take for the IRS to get back to me?

The IRS will carefully review the forms. It could take them as long as four months to get back to you. If you hear no word from the IRS after four months, consider resubmitting or hiring a tax professional to help you with your case.

Many Innocent Spouse Relief claims are denied. So you must make sure you provide plenty of documentation to back up your case. Basically, you need to prove you didn't know anything about your spouse's debt. Because you file and sign the papers, you're automatically liable. If you were already denied relief and have new information to provide, you can resubmit your form with your new documents.