Filing jointly for an income tax return is common among spouses, both assuming that since they are married and collectively own their possessions. There is a lower tax liability for those who file jointly. This filing status also assumes that both spouses are liable for anything that may occur from the tax return. Under the Internal Revenue Code, section 6015 provides an innocent spouse relief from those liabilities.
There are many types of relief afforded to the innocent spouse, one type being in the case of inequity. If, taking all the facts and circumstances into account, it would be unfair to hold one partner liable for tax debt of the other spouse, relief may be granted. In another situation, if you and your spouse file jointly and there is a problem with your spouse’s business or partnership which you are not affiliated with, you may seek relief if there is later an audit.
Making the decision to file jointly or separately can be difficult, but if your spouse has a high audit risk business or isn’t so great at keeping good financial records, it may be wise to file separately to spare yourself the liability. There is an option to file separately but later amend your return to jointly within three years from the due date of the return. It is important to realize that you cannot amend a joint return into separate filings.
Relief is also available to those who were formerly spouses but either are no longer married, legally separated, or living separate for at least 12 months. This type of relief is known as separation of liability, which essentially states that because of the separation between the two parties, neither is liable for the other.
Of course, any liability is dependent on whether the spouse or former spouse knew or should have known of any erroneous items on the return, except if signed under duress.
If you are experiencing an IRS audit because of the information or erroneous items your spouse filled out on your joint return, contact an experienced lawyer to help you seek the relief you deserve. It would not be fair to put liability on you for the choices your spouse or former partner made when filing your tax return. Call attorney Michael Alan Siddons today for a free consultation at (610) 255-7500.